One dead after explosion at Austrian gas facility

A subsidiary of Austrian energy company OMV said the country's source of natural gas is covered.
By Daniel J. Graeber Follow @dan_graeber Contact the Author   |  Updated Dec. 12, 2017 at 12:39 PM
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Dec. 12 (UPI) -- Austrian energy company OMV confirmed Tuesday there was an explosion on the grounds of a gas storage facility in Austria that left one person dead.

The company said there was an explosion at 9:00 a.m. local time at the Baumgarten gas facility.

"The explosion caused a serious fire that has been contained to several small fires," the company said in a statement. "It is with great sadness that we have to announce that one person lost their life in this accident."

Twenty-one others were injured in the accident, including Austrian citizens and employees and contractors from six other countries. The company said the exact cause of the incident is unclear and police are on scene investigating. At this time, OMV's subsidiary, Gas Connect Austria, said the explosion appears to be the result of a technical fault.

OMV reported an operating net profit in the third quarter of $933 million, up 52 percent from the same period last year

For production, costs for OMV declined by 13 percent during the quarter to $8.80 per barrel of oil equivalent, while output increased 13 percent to 341,000 barrels of oil equivalent per day.

Austrian Minister for Energy Harald Mahrer said the government is in regular contact with authorities about the supply of natural gas in the country.

"Today's misfortune has no effects on the gas supply in Austria which is guaranteed by natural gas storage facilities," he said in response to questions emailed by UPI. "The electricity supply is also not affected."

Estimates from commodity pricing group S&P Global Platts said that, after the blast, there was "zero capacity" for the supply of Russian natural sent through Austria to the Italian energy market. As a result, wholesale prices have more than doubled and the Italian government said the gas market there was in an emergency situation.

Russian natural gas company Gazprom, a partner with OMV on several projects and one of the leading European suppliers of gas, said it would have to reroute its supplies in response to the Austrian situation.

Massimo Di-Odoardo, a natural gas analyst for consultant group Wood Mackenzie, said in an emailed commentary that Austria's gas disruption, coupled with outages from the Forties system in the North Sea, was creating ripple effects across the European energy market.

"There is still plenty of storage across Europe to cope with this," he said. "But if supply does not resume soon and the cold weather continues, prices will remain strong through the winter."

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