1 June 2018

History of a Сlose Friendship

This June marks the 50th anniversary of the first contract to supply natural gas from Russia to Austria. The oil and gas group OMV was the first company in Western Europe that signed the long-term contract to purchase the ‘blue fuel’ from USSR. On 1 June, 1968, the contract was signed, and already on 10 September, 1968, first gas started to flow to Austria.

Since then, the gas cooperation between our countries has been successfully expanding and embracing new frontiers for five decades. Over these years, the volumes of Russian gas supplies have increased more than tenfold. When in 1969, the year following the year of the gas supplies launch, 782 million cubic meters were supplied, in 2017 Gazprom exported 9,1 billion cubic meters. This is a historical record, 50.3% (3 bcm) above the result of 2016 (6.1 bcm), and 33.7% (2.3 bcm) higher than the previous record of 2005 (6.8 bcm). 2017 has been a record-breaking year for consumption of Russian gas in Austria, and today, the demand for ‘blue fuel’ keeps growing. From 1 January till 15 May 2018, supplies to the country increased by 70.3% (1.9 bcm) compared to the same period of the last year.

Overall, over 50 years of cooperation Gazprom has exported more than 215 bcm of natural gas to Austria. The country also plays an important role in the transit of Russian gas, ensuring annual transportation of about 30 bcm of gas to Italy, France, Germany, Hungary, Slovenia and Croatia.

Over the years of successful work, Gazprom and its Austrian partner companies have implemented projects reaching beyond the gas trade, thus contributing to the energy security of Europe. This work included establishing of new gas transport routes that allow to increase supply volumes, as well as development of Baumgarten, one of the largest gas hubs in Europe. The implementation of a joint gas storage project is also of utmost importance for reliable gas supplies.

More than 10 years ago, the Gazprom Group and RAG put into operation the Haidach underground gas storage facility, the largest UGS in Austria and one of the largest in all Europe. This UGS, with its active storage volume of 2.89 bcm, is located close to the Baumgarten hub, and together they form the primary element of the whole Central European gas market. The operation of this storage contributes to reliability of gas supplies to consumers in several European countries – Austria, Germany, Italy, Hungary, Croatia, Slovenia and Slovakia.

The partnership of Russia and Austria in the gas sphere keeps progressing. Today, Gazprom’s main partner in Austria, the OMV, actively participates in financing of a large gas transport project – Nord Stream 2, aimed at securing Russian gas supplies to Western as well as to Central Europe. Also, Gazprom and OMV are planning to complete an asset swap soon. As a result of this deal, the Russian company will get 38.5% in OMV Norge, which is engaged in exploration and production in Norway, and OMV, in turn, will receive 24.98% interest in IV and V phase development in the Urengoy gas and condensate field. 

Along with their partnership in energy, Gazprom and OMV also cooperate in the cultural sphere. Over many years, supported by Gazprom and OMV, a number of important cultural and social projects have been implemented. They include the performance by the Tchaikovsky Symphony Orchestra led by Vladimir Fedoseev in Wiener Musikverein, the cultural and educational project “Russian seasons in Austria. Vienna classics in Russia”, the concert of the Moscow Soloists chamber orchestra within the project “Stradivari in the world’s capitals”. For many years, the companies supported the large-scale international Open World project for children implemented by the Austrian social foundation Energy for Life.

Since 2016, within the Memorandum of Understanding on the implementation of a joint cultural project, Gazprom and OMV have been organizing the large-scale gala performance “Imperial Capitals: St. Petersburg – Vienna”. Over the past two years, the concerts given by Russian and Austrian artists took place in the Dmitry Shostakovich St. Petersburg Academic Philharmonia. The performances became the central cultural event of the St. Petersburg International Gas Forum.

Furthermore, in autumn 2017 a large exhibition of Peter Paul Rubens paintings in the Museum of Art History in Vienna was organized. Three works of the painter had been brought from St. Petersburg State Hermitage to Vienna, with support of Gazprom and OMV.

Over half a century, Russian and Austrian companies managed to establish a true strategic partnership covering different spheres, from natural gas supplies to social projects. This foundation based on mutual trust and respect will continue to develop with new natural gas volumes, joint infrastructure projects and cultural initiatives, for the decades to come.


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