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VIENNA: Austrian Chancellor Karl Nehammer will seek to secure more natural gas supplies from the United Arab Emirates during a visit to Abu Dhabi this week aimed at reducing his country’s heavy energy dependence on Russia, his office said on Monday.

Austria has been scrambling since Russia’s invasion of Ukraine to find alternative sources of natural gas, vital for heating and some energy-intensive industries producing goods such as steel and paper. Most of Austria’s electricity comes from renewables, especially hydropower.

“We are well prepared for the coming winter. Our storage facilities are almost full. We have also significantly reduced our dependence on Russian gas, from 80% to 50%,” Nehammer was quoted as saying in a statement issued by his office.

He will be travelling to Abu Dhabi with his finance minister and fellow conservative Magnus Brunner as well as his minister for energy and the environment, Leonore Gewessler of the Greens.

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“We are now working on ensuring security of supply for the following heating season. I am therefore travelling with Magnus Brunner and Leonore Gewessler to Abu Dhabi on Wednesday afternoon to conduct negotiations on how we can reduce our dependence on Russia further and increase security of supply for 2023/2024.”

Austria and Abu Dhabi sovereign wealth fund Mubadala are the two biggest shareholders in Austrian oil and gas company OMV.

The UAE is an “important strategic partner” in Austria’s efforts to ensure security of supply, Nehammer added.

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