Natural gas

Diagram of natural gas storage facility
Photo: OMV AG

Natural gas is a flammable, naturally occurring gas mixture consisting of short-chain hydrocarbons in porous rock formations. Natural gas is a federally owned mineral resource. Austria can presently cover about 10 percent of its demand from domestic production.

In Austria, natural gas was first discovered in 1844, in the area of Vienna’s eastern railway station. Since 1890 it has been extracted near Wels and as early as in 1934/1935 the Simmering power station of the Wiener Elektrizitätswerke obtained about 15 million  of natural gas from Schwadorf-Oberlaa. When natural gas was discovered in Voitsdorf in 1963, it was for the first time possible to supply a large industrial enterprise with energy. This marked the start of a rapid development of natural gas as an energy carrier in Upper Austria.

In the Vienna Basin the deepest natural gas well of Europe, with a depth of about 8,552 metres, was sunk.

Since that time natural gas has been exploited from numerous domestic deposits in Upper Austria and Lower Austria, which enables Austria to cover about 15 % to 17 % of the domestic annual consumption. In 2019 approximately 891 million cubic metres of natural gas were produced in Austria.

Natural gas is above all used for the generation of energy, for heating and as a means of propulsion.

Storage of natural gas

In addition to domestic production, Austria’s supply with natural gas is mainly ensured by imports. In principle, natural gas is delivered uniformly throughout the year. During the summer months natural gas is pressed into underground natural horizons via storage probes, which enables us to withdraw natural gas from the storage facilities and to ensure the higher and uneven demand (diurnal consumption peaks) in winter.

In Austria, natural gas is stored in depleted natural gas reservoirs, at a depth of currently about 500 to 2,300 metres. These reservoirs have demonstrated their tightness over millions of years and have been comprehensively investigated in the course of natural gas extraction. Findings from many years of production ensure safe storage operations. 

The total storage capacity of a natural gas storage facility is composed of working gas and cushion gas volumes. Working gas is the utilisable share of the natural gas in the storage facility which can be stored and withdrawn again; cushion gas comprises those quantities of natural gas that are additionally needed in the storage facility to maintain the required pressure level and the extraction rates.

Presently, Austria has natural gas storage facilities in Haidach, Haidach 5, Aigelsbrunn, 7-Fields, Puchkirchen, Haag, Tallesbrunn, and Schönkirchen with a total working gas volume of approximately 8.6 billion cubic metres. The use of natural geological horizons for storing natural gas therefore contributes essentially to the long-term security of energy supply in Austria and in Europe.

The current production data for Austria and the world can be found in the Austrian Montan-Handbuch and in the international statistics on raw materials, WORLD MINING DATA.