(Montel) Austria has warned that Russia’s plan to demand payment for gas in rubles could disrupt supplies, joining a similar warning from Germany this week, with rationing as a potential option if the situation worsens.
“At the moment, deliveries are arriving reliably and without restrictions. Of course, this can change,” Austrian energy regulator E-Control quoted chancellor Karl Nehammer as saying late on Wednesday.
“With the early warning stage in the emergency plan, we are now monitoring the situation on the gas market even more closely. And we are preparing ourselves in the best possible way for an emergency so that we can secure gas supplies for households,” climate protection minister Leonore Gewessler added.
On Wednesday, the German government declared an early warning stage for gas supply. This is the first of three warning levels in both countries.
“Any energy steering measures (such as rationing) are not part of the first stage of the emergency plan. They will only be used in stage 3 – the emergency stage – and in the immediate event of a crisis,” E-Control said.
The warnings came after Russia’s president, Vladimir Putin, recently instructed Russian energy giant Gazprom to redraw contracts with “unfriendly countries” along these lines by 31 March as part of a response to the Western sanctions on Moscow for its war on Ukraine.
The early warning stages are intended to prepare for a possible halt in deliveries if payments are not made in rubles.
G7 industrialised countries have ruled out paying for Russian energy in rubles, setting up a showdown with Moscow.
Russia reportedly hinted on Wednesday that it would carry out the changeover of contracts gradually.