Austria gives away Gazprom's portion of Haidach gas storage facility

BERLIN, July 26 (Reuters) - Gazprom's (GAZP.MM) part of Austria's Haidach gas storage facility, which has not been filled by the Russian state-owned group in months, has been given to another operator under new "use it or lose it" rules and filling should begin on Aug. 1, the energy ministry said.

RAG Austria AG, already a co-operator of Haidach and whose website describes itself as Austria’s largest energy storage company, had been chosen to take over Gazprom's portion of the facility, the ministry said on Tuesday.

The portion amounts to about 14 terrawatt-hours (TWh) of working gas volume, the ministry added.

It was already taking all necessary steps to ensure that marketing of the capacity can begin without delay.

Since Gazprom had not been filling its portion of Haidach, near Salzburg, one of the largest in Europe, the conservative-led government told the Russian firm in May that if it did not use its storage there the capacity would be handed over to others.

Legislation making that possible came into force on July 1. read more

"If a storage facility is not being used, other companies get access to it," energy minister Leonore Gewessler said. "As of August 1, the storage in Haidach will be filled."

Austria has been obtaining around 80% of its gas from Russia but since the war in Ukraine it has accused Moscow of weaponising that supply and has been seeking alternatives. Fearing that Russia will cut off supplies, it is racing to fill its gas storage facilities, which are at around half their capacity.

Austria aims to have its overall storage capacity 80% filled by autumn in order to make it through the winter.

Reporting by Kirsti Knolle; Writing by Miranda Murray; Editing by Rachel More and David Holmes

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