The Austrian government wants to tap into a gas storage facility that is important for Bavaria. The basis is a commitment from Federal Minister of Economics Habeck. Bavaria’s Prime Minister Söder is concerned about possible gas shortages. Berlin appeased.
Several EU countries recently announced that they do not want to support the collective energy saving measures favored by Germany. Federal Economics Minister Habeck (Bündnis90/Die Grünen) then complained that saving energy was also a question of “solidarity”. But now Habeck could get a feel for what such a thing feels like, because the distribution battles over natural gas gradually seem to be beginning in the EU.
The Austrian Energy Minister Leonore Gewessler said on Sunday, according to the Süddeutsche Zeitungthat Austria wants to tap into a gas storage facility that is important for Bavaria. The Haidach storage facility in Austria has so far only been connected to the German grid, but the Austrian government now wants to tap into it for its own population. According to Gewessler, the decision of the parliament in Vienna is final. She expects the first connection to the Austrian gas network to take place this year. Austria’s gas storage facilities are currently about 50 percent full.
Bavaria’s Economics Minister Hubert Aiwanger (Free Voters) reacted loudly BR 24 relaxed about Austria’s announcement. It is important that the memory is now filled quickly, said the politician. The background to this is that the part of the storage facility belonging to the Russian energy company Gazprom should not be full. The total fill level is currently around 20 percent. According to Aiwanger, Austria’s plans to access the storage facility are understandable: As far as gas supply is concerned, Europe is “in the same boat”. Bavaria’s Prime Minister Markus Söder (CSU) was not very relaxed about the Haidach cause. He explained:
“We are watching the gas storage developments with great concern.”
There is an agreement between Berlin and Vienna on Haidach, which states that the majority is intended for Bavaria. Literally:
“Hence our clear demand: the federal government must make the agreement with Austria transparent and state clearly when and how much gas will flow to Bavaria.”
If the agreement ultimately looks like Austria gets gas and Bavaria gets nothing, the federal government has failed in its task. This also applies to the economy as a whole: Whoever paralyzes the south is paralyzing “the entire country”.
The background to these statements is that severe consequences for the economy are feared in the event of a gas supply bottleneck, especially in southern Germany. Southern Germany is far from the large storage facilities and the planned liquid gas terminals in the north. The expansion of renewable energies is also progressing slowly, especially in Bavaria, since, among other things, the expansion of power lines that are supposed to bring electricity from wind farms in the north to Bavaria were fought and delayed in particular by the CSU. In addition, some nuclear power plants that were taken off the grid were replaced by gas-fired power plants.
Gewessler meanwhile explained that this step came as no surprise to anyone, as there was an agreement with Germany in this regard. During a visit to Vienna on July 12, the German Economics Minister Habeck signed an agreement that provides for the joint use of the storage facility. In addition, Vienna had already decided in June that all storage facilities located on its own territory would also be connected to the grid in Austria.
In Berlin, they are also trying to appease, saying that the step is not big news because it has been expected for several days. Vienna informed the Federal Ministry of Economics about this. So far, Habeck’s commitment to Vienna has been rather vague: In the event of a crisis, “everything will be done to secure the gas pipeline.” Berlin is also keeping a low profile on the consequences of Austria’s connection in the event of any gas bottlenecks.
The Haidach gas storage facility near Salzburg, which is operated as a joint project by the Austrian RAG together with Gazprom and the German gas trading company Wingas, is one of the largest in Central Europe. So far, the storage facility has only been connected to the German gas network and mainly supplies the so-called chemical triangle in Burghausen in Bavaria, 40 kilometers away, but also some private households in Munich and Ingolstadt. The Austrian federal states of Tyrol and Voralberg have so far been supplied indirectly via Germany from Haidach. Similar to Germany, Austria is heavily dependent on energy imports from Russia and is therefore under pressure due to the Russian sanctions. Accordingly, the “diversion” via Germany seems to be too unsafe for the Austrian government.
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