A massive European gas depot faces the risk of remaining empty - media

Due to a schism between Moscow and Berlin, the Austrian gas storage facility is unlikely to be filled.

According to Bloomberg, the Haidach underground gas storage facility in Austria may not be refilled by the next heating season due to a dispute between Berlin and Moscow over the seizure of Gazprom's German subsidiary.

The facility is in Austria, but it is linked to the German gas network and receives Russian gas from there. It is one of Europe's largest, capable of meeting roughly a quarter of Austria's annual gas needs.

It has, however, been vacant for some time.

Gazprom's subsidiary Gazprom Germania uses a portion of the facility. However, Moscow stopped supplying it with gas after Berlin seized the company amid Russia's Ukraine-related sanctions. According to the German news outlet Deutsche Welle, another section of the depot is used by Gazprom's subsidiary GSA but has been empty for several months.

Headache is strategically important for both Germany, which stores gas there, and Austria, because Germany pumps a portion of the gas from the site back to Austria's Tyrol and Vorarlberg regions.

Earlier this month, Austrian Chancellor Karl Nehammer urged Gazprom to replenish the depot, describing it as strategically important and threatening to nationalize the site. During a phone call with Russian President Vladimir Putin on Friday, he reiterated his call. Nehammer warned that if Gazprom fails to fill the storage facility, the site will be transferred to other gas providers.

According to Bloomberg, Vienna has been working hard to find ways to replenish the storage. To do so without Germany, however, it would need to find a way to connect Haidach to the Austrian gas network, which could be difficult.

"A connection between the storage facility and the Penta West pipeline would have to be built from a technical standpoint," Austrian operator Gas Connect told the publication in an email.

The closest Austrian gas pipeline to the site, Penta West, could be extended to connect Haidach to the rest of Austria's 900-kilometer gas grid. However, due to paperwork, building the link between the network and the depot could take years, according to a Bloomberg source, while the pipeline's capacity is already fully booked by traders pumping gas to other European markets.

According to Bloomberg, Austria may also award a tender for the depot's filling by non-Russian gas suppliers, though this option has not yet been approved.

Austria receives roughly 80% of its gas from Russia and has repeatedly stated that a disruption in supplies would be disastrous for the country.

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