Austria became the first country in Western Europe to sign a long-term gas supply contract with Soviet Union in 1968.
Austria is seeking to strengthen its energy cooperation with Qatar in a bid to reduce its current dependence on Russian gas, said Austria’s Federal Chancellor Karl Nehammer on Monday.
Nehammer’s statements came during a visit to Qatar, where he met with Amir Sheikh Tamim bin Hamad Al Thani along with various key officials in the country.
The Austrian diplomat was accompanied by Austria’s Federal Minister for Climate Action, Environment, Energy, Mobility, Innovation and Technology, Leonore Gewessler.
“It is important to secure the supply of natural gas for the winter and to reduce dependence on Russia in the medium term. I would also like to thank you for your support with the evacuations from Afghanistan last year,” tweeted Nehammer.
The Austrian envoy’s visit to Doha followed a trip to Abu Dhabi, where the two countries signed a memorandum of understanding (MoU) over hydrogen production cooperation.
The visits come as Russia’s invasion of Ukraine continues to pose a major threat to Europe’s fragile gas supply.
Qatari officials have repeatedly stated that they cannot unilaterally cover Europe’s energy supply gaps, yet expressed their support for their partners in times of need.
In 2017, Qatargas and Austria’s oil and gas company OMV signed a five-year agreement to deliver up to 1.1 million tonnes of liquefied natural gas (LNG) annually starting from 2019.
High dependency on Russian gas
Austria highly depends on Russian gas, with exports reaching a value of 16.28 bcm (billion cubic meters) in 2019. Staring from 1 January last year, the country has received up to 252 bcm of Russian natural gas since it started supplying Austria with gas.
Vienna became the first country in Western Europe to sign a long-term gas supply contract with Soviet Union in 1968. The European country’s oil and gas company,
In 2018, OMV Gas Marketing & Trading GmbH and Gazprom extended their long-term contract until 31 December, 2040. They later signed another contract to increase the annual supply volume by 1 bcm.
Vienna has condemned Russia’s aggression in Ukraine and said that it was not politically neutral despite its military neutrality.
Austria has been supporting Ukraine with humanitarian aid. On 28 February, it said that it sent an aid package of 15 million euros. In total, it has provided Ukraine with 17.5 million euros of aid.
“The most important thing now is to help people on the ground quickly, effectively and without complications,” said Federal Chancellor Karl Nehammer.
On Monday, the UN said that 406 civilians in Ukraine have been killed and 801 have been injured since the beginning of Russia’s undeclared invasion on 24 February.