Austria's explosion rattles European gas market

Austria's explosion rattles European gas market

A big explosion has rocked a key natural gas facility in eastern Austria, killing one person and injuring at least 18.

A fire followed the blast at the Baumgarten site, which happened around 08:45 (07:45 GMT).

“There was an explosion around 8:45 a.m. and a fire,” a police spokesman said. “A wide area has been sealed off and there are expected to be several injured.”

The facility about 50 kilometers northeast of Vienna transports the equivalent of a 10th of Europe’s gas demand. Baumgarten is a major hub for imported Russian gas, which is sent on to a number of European countries. The facility receives about 40bn cubic metres of gas per year.

On Twitter Austrian police said the situation was under control and a technical fault had caused the blast.

One unconfirmed report spoke of 60 hurt. Emergency teams are at the scene, BBC reported.

Police have cordoned off the area. Some victims suffering burns have been airlifted out by helicopter, Austrian ORF news reports.

Moscow-based Gazprom PJSC said it “is working on redistribution of gas flows and does its best to secure uninterrupted gas supplies to the clients on this transport direction.”

Police are investigating the exact circumstances of the blast, which is assumed to be the result of a techical incident, Gas Connect Austria GmbH said on its website.

Italian Economic Development Minister Carlo Calenda announced the intention to declare a state of emergency in connection with the cessation of gas supplies due to an explosion at the Austrian gas distribution station in Baumgarten.

"Today there was a serious incident at the gas hub in Austria. In this connection we had serious problems with gas supplies, primarily at the Austrian section, through which supplies from Russia are going," he said.

According to a representative of Slovakian operator Eustream, Pavol Kubik, gas supplies from Slovakia to Austria have been suspended as a result of the blast.