Austrian energy group OMV plans to continue importing the majority of its natural gas from Russia this winter, the company’s CEO has revealed.
The EU has placed a series of sanctions on the import of Russian crude oil products following President Vladimir Putin’s invasion of Ukraine, but the import of gas is currently exempt.
OMV signed a supply contract with Russian gas giant Gazprom in 2018, which it plans to remain committed to until it expires in 2040.
“As long as Gazprom will supply […] we will continue to take these quantities from Gazprom,” Alfred Stern, CEO of OMV told the Financial Times this week.
Stern warned that should the EU impose sanctions on Russian gas it would “drive price rises”.
OMV supplies around 30% of the Austrian gas market with much of the company’s supply coming from Russia.
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In February this year, OMV’s CFO told Industrie Magazin that the company was “temporarily back at 100% [on contracted gas deliveries from Gazprom] at the moment but have also seen values at 30% and below in the past.”
Stern told the Financial Times that the share of Russian gas in OMV’s total gas imports had fluctuated between 20% and 70% from one month to another in 2022.
Last week, Austrian Energy Minister Leonore Gewessler said that Russia remains Austria’s main supplier of gas. She added that Russian gas can be unreliable and it is necessary to make efforts to decrease dependence on Russian energy.
Limiting Russia’s profits from energy supply has been central to the EU’s policy against Russia’s war in Ukraine. A ban on the import of Russian crude oil was first introduced in June 2022. It has been challenging for the bloc to agree on gas sanctions as many EU economies depend on Russian gas imports.
Critics argue that the continued trade in Russian gas is directly financing Russia’s war in Ukraine.
Germany and the Czech Republic have both eradicated their Russian gas imports and now source gas from alternative suppliers.
OMV announced a €4bn ($4.4bn) investment into a Romanian natural gas project last month. According to the company, the field has an estimated recoverable volume of 100 billion cubic metres.
“With Romania set to become the largest natural gas producer in the EU, Neptun Deep is expected to provide a reliable and secure source of energy in the region, while strengthening our group’s position in the Black Sea region and in South-Eastern Europe,” Stern said in a statement.