Austria's Energy Minister Leonore Gewessler emphasized the joint responsibility of Germany and Austria for gas storage. "We have always coordinated well with Germany," said the minister, referring to the Haidach storage facility in Austria, which is important for Germany.
The state had decided a long time ago that the underground storage facility near Salzburg, which was previously only connected to the German network, should also be connected to the Austrian network as soon as possible. "But that doesn't mean that one country wants to take gas away from the other country," said Carola Millgramm, gas expert at E-Control regulator.
Söder insists on transparency
During a recent visit by Economics Minister Robert Habeck, Germany and Austria signed a framework paper intended to promote cooperation on energy security. Austria has large underground natural gas storage facilities. With 95 terawatt hours, the amount of gas required for one year can be stored in the former natural gas production sites. The German gas storage facilities are only sufficient for a quarter of the required annual volume.
Bavaria's Prime Minister Markus Söder called on the federal government to clarify the gas supply of Bavaria and other federal states from the Haidach storage facility. The federal government must make the agreement with Austria transparent and state clearly when and how much gas should flow to Bavaria. Unfortunately, the federal government has been acting far too hesitantly for months. Söder warned: "If Bavaria, as the economically strongest federal state, is not adequately supplied, this will affect the economy as a whole. Anyone who disconnects the south will paralyze the whole country."
Storage expanded at Moscow's insistence
According to E-Control, the strong expansion of storage capacities since 2007 was due to the demand from foreign companies such as Gazprom for additional storage capacities in Europe. "The Haidach storage facility was expanded on Moscow's initiative in the mid-2000s," said Millgramm. At that time, transportation through Ukraine was an essential route for Russian gas.
However, due to recurring disputes between Ukraine and Russia, transit was not always secure. In fact, there were several interruptions in the years that followed, which could be offset by the removal from the Haidach storage facility.
According to E-Control, the Haidach storage facility was still 100 percent filled by Gazprom in 2019. Most of the Haidach storage facility is currently empty because it is still under Russian control. In the meantime, however, the process is underway in Germany and Austria, at the end of which other storage customers will soon be able to fill the storage facility.