Austria’s energy minister has formed a commission to investigate whether the nation can annul a gas-supply agreement with Russia, aiming to reduce reliance on Russian energy, reported Reuters.  

The contract, held by OMV and Gazprom, is currently set to run until 2040.  

Energy Minister Leonore Gewessler, a member of the Greens party, has expressed a desire to end this long-standing contract. 

Chancellor Karl Nehammer and his conservative party concur with the need to transition away from Russian gas.  

However, as the parliamentary election approaches on 29 September 2024, the coalition partners have shown increasing discord.  

In the latest data, from May, Russian gas accounted for 90% of Austria’s net gas imports. 

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Gewessler confirmed that OMV has allowed the commission, which includes economists and legal experts, to review the confidential contract terms.  

The commission is led by Irmgard Griss, a retired judge and former liberal Neos lawmaker, alongside law professor Andreas Kletecka.  

“It is a very significant and important question: isn’t there a way to get out of this contract?” Griss said in a news conference. “Is there anything you can use legally to get out of this contract?” 

The commission is expected to present preliminary results by autumn, with a comprehensive report due by year’s end, potentially before the election.  

Meanwhile, OMV has prepared for possible disruptions in Russian gas supply due to a foreign court’s suspension order, which could redirect payments from Gazprom to another European energy company. 

Following the court order, in May, OMV assured it can supply gas from alternative sources such as Norway and the global liquified natural gas market.  

These developments come as Germany’s Uniper has already terminated its contracts with Gazprom Export following an arbitration tribunal’s decision, which awarded Uniper more than €13bn ($14.06bn) in damages for unfulfilled gas deliveries since mid-2022.