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Austria sets up commission to terminate gas contract

Austria sets up commission to terminate gas contract Photo: Austrian Energy Minister Leonore Gewessler (Getty Images)
Author: Daryna Vialko

Austrian Energy Minister Leonore Gewessler has appointed an expert commission to study whether Vienna can resile from the contract for the supply of Russian gas, according to Reuters.

The conservatives of Chancellor Karl Nehammer have stated that they agree that Austria needs to move away from Russian gas. However, ahead of the parliamentary elections scheduled for September 29, both sides of the coalition are increasingly at odds.

Gewessler said that OMV had agreed to give members of the commission access to the contract, the terms of which are kept strictly confidential. The commission, consisting of economists and lawyers, is chaired by retired judge and former liberal party Neos Irmgard Griss and law professor Andreas Kletecka.

"It is a very significant and important question: isn't there a way to get out of this contract?" Griss told a news conference. "Is there anything you can use legally to get out of this contract?" Griss said at a press conference.

The commission's initial findings are expected to be presented "by autumn," and the final report by the end of this year, according to a statement from Austria's Ministry of Energy, but it did not specify whether this could happen before the September elections.

Austria and Russian gas

Shortly after the start of Russian aggression against Ukraine in 2022, Austria began decisive steps to overcome its long-standing dependence on cheap Russian gas. Vienna is actively seeking alternative energy supply sources.

As early as mid-February, Gewessler stated that Austria intends to terminate the long-term contract with Russia for the purchase of gas from Gazprom