Scrapping Russian gas deal would cause prices to ‘explode’ – Austrian MP
Austria’s plans to end a long-term contract for Russian gas would cause energy prices to “explode” and would fuel inflation in the country, Axel Kassegger, a member of the Freedom Party of Austria, has warned.
On Monday, Austrian Energy Minister Leonore Gewessler urged for radical steps to be taken to cut the country’s reliance on Russian gas, including breaking the long-term deal that state-owned energy company OMV has with Russia’s Gazprom until 2040.
In December, the share of Russian gas in Austria’s total gas imports surged to a new record of 98%, up from 76% the previous month, according to Gewessler.
“The market and the energy companies that are part of it are not fulfilling their responsibility to reduce the dependency on Russian gas sufficiently,” the minister said. “We must prepare to exit OMV’s long-term contracts,” she added.
Kassegger, a member of the Austrian National Council, took aim at Gewessler’s plans on Monday, urging members of other political parties who have “retained any trace of economic policy common sense” to “ring all the bells” at the announcement and say a “clear no” to the idea “immediately.”
He warned that a decision to rescind the contract with Russia would result in a several-fold increase in gas prices, send inflation skyrocketing, and deprive Austrian businesses of competitive advantages.
“In her green-ideological drive, Minister Gewessler has apparently set herself the goal of causing energy prices to explode even further in the final phase of her term in office and thus driving our economy and industry completely into a wall,” he said.
Austria’s imports of Russian gas reached pre-Ukraine conflict levels last year, as the country imported almost double the amount of gas its economy needed. Stable Russian gas supplies and increased shipments allowed Vienna to become a net energy exporter for the first time in twenty years.
Kassegger said that “an end to these gas supply contracts would therefore be the next political knee-jerk that this unfortunate black-green federal government takes” in order to comply with EU sanctions, which only harm the Austrian population and economy without causing any change in Russia’s behavior.
He called for an end to the “demonization” of fossil fuels in a “hysterical” climate policy from the “ideological ivory tower,” saying that Austria needs an energy policy that pursues only the interests of its own citizens and businesses.
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