Mineral Fuels

Mineral fuels such as crude oil and natural gas occur naturally underground and can be used to produce energy or plastics. Mineral fuels were deposited and transformed as organic material (such as plants) a long time ago.

The current production data for Austria is published in the Austrian Mining Yearbook (PDF, 4 MB)(in German). International statistics on raw materials are released in English in the WORLD MINING DATA.

Just like natural gas, crude oil is a state-owned mineral in Austria. Currently, the country is able to cover about 5% of its national demand for oil from domestic production. Annual production is around 600,000 tonnes (ca. 4.5 Mio. barrels).

Most significant oil reserves are located in the areas of the North Alpine Foreland Basin in Upper and Lower Austria as well as in the Vienna Basin to the east of the country.

Austria’s history of oil production is dating back to 1914 when the first commercially successful oil well was spudded in the town of Egbell being part of the Austrian-Hungarian Empire (now Gbely, Slovakia).

In the 1930s two corporate businesses (Erdölproduktionsgesellschaft m.b.H. – EPG and Rohölgewinnungs AG - RAG) were established and took over the industrial production of the “black gold” in Austria. During World War II, the extraction of crude oil was mainly organised by German businesses.

Towards the end of the war in 1945, Austria was the third-most important oil-producing country of Europe after the Soviet Union and Romania. The Vienna Basin area became part of the Soviet occupation zone in Europe and has been administered by Russia until Austria’s national independence in the mid 1950s.

In Matzen, located in the Vienna Basin, the largest Central European oil field so far was discovered in 1949. Subsequently the “Österreichische Mineralölverwaltung Aktiengesellschaft“ - today known as OMV AG - was founded in 1956.

Oil is an important energy source and serves as raw material for the production of various fuels, plastics, medical products and many more. Also minor amounts of oil shale are produced in Austria (Tyrol) for cosmetics and pharmaceutical production.

Natural gas is a gas mixture occurring in porous rock formations. In Austria, natural gas is a state-owned mineral. Annual production is around 750 Mio. m³ which allows the country to cover about 10% of its national demand for natural gas from domestic production.

First gas discoveries were made in 1844 in the geological setting of the Vienna Basin close to Vienna Eastern Railway Station. As early as in 1934 the Simmering power station in Vienna already obtained about 5 Mio. m³ of natural gas per year from the Schwadorf-Oberlaa field.

Since 1890, gas has been produced from the North Alpine Foreland Basin near Wels in Upper Austria as well. The discovery of the significant Voitsdorf field in 1963 marked the starting point of commercial gas supply for large industrial businesses in this region.

From the 1960s on the development of natural gas in Austria gained traction and since then this type of energy source has produced from numerous fields in Upper and Lower Austria as well as in Vienna.

Also notably to mention that the deepest natural gas well of Europe has been drilled in the Vienna Basin with a depth of about 8,500 metres.

Natural gas is a very important source for energy generation, heating and propulsion.

In addition to domestic production, Austria’s supply with natural gas is supported by import from other countries. Gas is basically supplied on a steady rate throughout the year. During summer, not required amounts of gas are transferred into underground reservoirs (porous rock formations) via gas wells while during consumption peaks in winter the gas can be withdrawn from the storage facilities.

In Austria, natural gas is stored in depleted natural gas reservoirs at depth ranging between 500 to 2,300 metres. These reservoirs have demonstrated perfect sealing by holding gas over millions of years and were studied extensively during times of gas exploration and production. Findings from many decades of production ensure very safe storage operations. 

The total capacity of a storage facility comprises of working gas and cushion gas volumes. Working gas is the actual stored and frequently useable share of the gas in the storage facility while cushion gas is natural gas required to stay in the reservoir in order to maintain reservoir pressure levels and extraction rates.

Austria currently holds natural gas storage facilities in the areas of Haidach, Aigelsbrunn, 7-Fields, Puchkirchen, Haag, Tallesbrunn, and Schönkirchen with a total working gas volume of approximately 8.6 bn m³.

The use of depleted reservoirs for storing natural gas makes a significant contribution to a secure energy supply in Austria and also in Europe.