Buying Russian gas 'unpleasant' but necessary, says Austria Chancellor
The Chancellor said that Austria began reducing its dependence on Russian energy imports in 2022 and is working to increase deliveries through Germany and Italy to diversify its suppliers.
Austrian Chancellor Karl Nehammer expressed on Monday his moral discomfort with buying gas from Russia but noted that it is necessary to do so in order to ensure Austria's energy security.
"The priority number one is security of supply. If it is disrupted, the system will be disrupted and so will be the production and supply of energy to people. That is why it is, first of all, about ensuring security of energy supply. It is not pleasant. It is not pleasant from the moral standpoint, but it is real. And it is my obligation as the chancellor to do this," Nehammer told Austrian broadcaster ORF on Monday.
The chancellor added that his country began reducing its dependence on Russian energy imports in 2022 and is working to increase deliveries through Germany and Italy to diversify its suppliers.
He also said that Austrian oil and gas company OMV has supply contracts with Russian energy giant Gazprom until 2040, and that terminating them would be too costly for Austria.
In July, OMV CEO Alfred Stern said the company would continue to source most of its gas from Russia, even though it has secured alternative contracts from other sources to meet Austria's energy import needs.
After the adoption of several packages of sanctions against Moscow by the West, the sanctions backfired, having detrimental effects on the world's global markets, most notably gas and oil.
European governments are now suffering the repercussions of their sanctions amid rising strikes and protests over the cost of living and pay.
On July 9, OMV announced its intention to continue buying from Gazprom, even after securing alternative contracts from other sources to fulfill Austria's import needs.
CEO Alfred Stern confirmed that OMV will continue to honor its long-term agreement with Gazprom, citing legal obligations and the potential for price increases if certain sources are eliminated.
"As long as Gazprom will supply… we will continue to take these quantities from Gazprom… There is an obligation we have as an industrial company to ensure that we use those sources as long as they are legally acceptable," Stern told the Financial Times newspaper.