Article Austria: Amendments to Ensure Adequate Gas Supply Enter Into Force

On June 9, 2022, an amendment to the Energy Steering Act 2012 (Energielenkungsgesetz 2012, EnLG 2012) and an amendment to the Natural Gas Sector Act 2011 (Gaswirtschaftsgesetz 2011, GWG 2011) entered into force in Austria. The amendments are meant to safeguard the security of the gas supply in Austria, which is threatened by the ongoing war between Russia and Ukraine. The amendment of the Energy Steering Act 2012 incentivizes large commercial gas consumers, among others, to place gas in storage by exempting 50% of annual consumption from steering measures. The Natural Gas Sector Act 2011 amendment authorizes the government to instruct energy providers to store natural gas. Compensation will be provided.

Content of the Amendments

The Energy Steering Act 2012 authorizes the Austrian government to enact intervention measures to “avert imminent or overcome actual disruptions of Austrian energy supplies insofar as these do not represent seasonal shortages and cannot be averted or overcome at all, in a timely manner, or at reasonable cost by means of market-based measures.” (EnLG 2012, § 4, para. 1.) The amendment exempts from such steering measures up to 50% of annual gas consumption for gas that has been stored by end consumers or by third parties on their behalf. However, if safeguarding the safe and reliable operation of the gas grids requires accessing these otherwise exempt supplies, compensation must be paid. (EnLG Amendment § 26a.) The amendment has retroactive effect from April 27, 2022. It is limited to three years and will expire on May 31, 2025. (§ 42, para. 4.)

The amendment to the Natural Gas Sector Act 2011 instructs the clearing and settlement agents (balance group coordinators) to introduce “market makers” to ensure the security of the gas supply. (GWG Amendment § 87, para. 1, no. 4.) On request of the Austrian Federal Ministry of Climate Action and Energy, the clearing and settlement agent must publish a transparent and nondiscriminatory market-based public invitation to store gas to ensure the security of supply. The storage is carried out in storage facilities, which may be used for immediate distribution to the market areas. The total storage amount will be specified in the request of the Austrian Federal Ministry of Climate Action and Energy, which must take into account the current as well as projected storage levels and impending or actual impairments or disruptions of the security of supply. These gas quantities must be stored as backup physical balancing energy. Storage costs will be paid from federal funds. Further details will be specified in an ordinance. (§ 87, paras. 6, 7.)

Background to the Act

Natural gas provides around 20.95% of the Austrian energy supply, with the majority of it coming from Russia. On March 30, 2022, the competent Austrian authorities issued an “early warning” as defined in article 11 of Regulation (EU) 2017/1938. The “early warning crisis level” means that “there is concrete, serious and reliable information that an event which is likely to result in significant deterioration of the gas supply situation may occur and is likely to lead to the alert or the emergency level being triggered.” The amendments are intended to avoid the triggering of the emergency level.

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Austria: Amendments to Ensure Adequate Gas Supply Enter Into Force
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Chicago citation style:

Austria: Amendments to Ensure Adequate Gas Supply Enter Into Force. 2022. Web Page. https://www.loc.gov/item/global-legal-monitor/2022-06-14/austria-amendments-to-ensure-adequate-gas-supply-enter-into-force/.

APA citation style:

(2022) Austria: Amendments to Ensure Adequate Gas Supply Enter Into Force. [Web Page] Retrieved from the Library of Congress, https://www.loc.gov/item/global-legal-monitor/2022-06-14/austria-amendments-to-ensure-adequate-gas-supply-enter-into-force/.

MLA citation style:

Austria: Amendments to Ensure Adequate Gas Supply Enter Into Force. 2022. Web Page. Retrieved from the Library of Congress, <www.loc.gov/item/global-legal-monitor/2022-06-14/austria-amendments-to-ensure-adequate-gas-supply-enter-into-force/>.

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