Major Austrian gas pipeline back online | Business| Economy and finance news from a German perspective | DW | 13.12.2017
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Major Austrian gas pipeline back online

The damage from a massive explosion at a strategically important Austrian gas import node has been repaired. The critical incident had forced Italy to declare a state of emergency.

Gas is once again flowing into Italy as all main arteries that supply neighboring countries from Austria's main gas pipeline hub were back online before midnight after an explosion there shut it down on Tuesday, the co-head of Gas Connect Austria said on ORF Radio on Wednesday.

The Baumgarten site, situated about 50 kilometers (31 miles) northeast of Vienna, transports the equivalent of a tenth of Europe's gas needs. It receives mainly Russian gas via Slovakia and Germany, which is then redistributed to European countries like Hungary, Slovenia and Croatia via the Austrian natural gas transmission network.

"I can report that we were able to get back online all transit lines yesterday before midnight and that all of these lines are 100 percent productive," Harald Stindl said.

Italian relief

The Austrian hub blast is the second incident this week that is rattling European energy markets, after supplies were already pinched by a shutdown of a key North Sea oil pipeline due to a hairline crack.

Tuesday's explosion had earlier prompted Italy to declare a state of emergency as flows from the strategic site were cut off for most of the day, saying that supply to Italian consumers would however be ensured "by an increased gas supply from national subterranean reserves."

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IItalian gas grid operator Snam said late on Tuesday that gas flows from Russia would resume by midnight and that Austrian authorities had authorized the resumption of gas transportation operations.

The explosion injured at least 18 people and left one missing and presumed dead.

News of the blast sent gas prices in Europe soaring on fears it would restrict supply as winter sets in, as one third of Russian natural gas is transported via the transport hub, according to Gas Connect.

tr/aos (Reuters, dpa) 

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