Austria to Explore Early Exit from Russian Gas Contract

Austria to Explore Early Exit from Russian Gas Contract

Climate Protection Minister Leonore Gewessler, APA/TOBIAS STEINMAURER

 

A new government commission will examine whether Austria can exit its gas contract with Russia early, the Climate Ministry announced on Tuesday.

“The contract extension in 2018 was a mistake,” Climate Protection Minister Leonore Gewessler (Green Party) said at a press conference in Vienna.

The contract between Russian gas giant Gazprom and Austria’s energy company OMV was extended in 2018 until 2040, in the presence of then-Chancellor Sebastian Kurz and Russian President Vladimir Putin.

It includes a “take-or-pay” clause, which obligates OMV to pay even if it does not need the gas.

The review will take place under strict security measures, with Gewessler stressing that the commission will avoid scrutinising OMV’s business decisions.

The commission will be chaired by former Supreme Court President Irmgard Griss and law professor Andreas Kletečka. Preliminary results are expected in the autumn, with a final report due by the end of the year.

Griss said the commission will address how business contracts such as this impact “the economic situation, security policy, and overall living conditions in Austria.”

Austria has been trying to decrease its reliance on Russian gas since the invasion of Ukraine in February 2022. In May, 90% of Austria’s gas imports originated from Russia.

Last week, Russian Deputy Prime Minister Alexander Novak stated that Russia is prepared to continue gas supplies to Europe via Ukraine after the current transit agreement, the only remaining business deal between Moscow and Kyiv, expires at the end of 2024.

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