Natural Gas: consists, with some variability, of light hydrocarbons (methane, ethane, propane, butane), CO<SUB>2</SUB>, H<SUB>2</SUB>S and N<SUB>2</SUB>. The first discovery of natural gas in Austria occurred on the area of the Vienna East Railway Station in 1844, followed in 1892 by finds near Wels.
Natural gas, which has been declared state property, is won in petroleum areas in the form of "wet gas" (i.e. diluted in petroleum) or from pure natural gas deposits in the form of "dry gas. Systematic utilisation of natural gas did not start until 1955, when the Austrian government took charge of petroleum production ( OMV AG).
The most important natural gas fields are situated in the Vienna Basin ( molasse zone): Matzen, Zwerndorf, Hoeflein, and also at Puchkirchen, Pfaffstaett, Friedburg and Atzbach in Upper Austria. In 1999 natural gas was extracted from 660 locations. The Hoeflein deposit (2700-3000 m below ground) was the first commercially utilisable natural gas deposit situated below the Alps.
Particular significance attaches to the gas deposits in the Alpine limestone strata in the subsoil of the Vienna Basin. In the course of exploration of the geologically complex "floors" of the Vienna Basin, a large gas deposit (1,3 Mio. m3/day) was discovered at a depth of 7544 m at the Zistersdorf UeT 1a well, but extraction proved impossible. The Zistersdorf UeT 2a well, which was drilled in the immediate vicinity and reached a depth of 8553 m on May 31, 1983 (deepest hydrocarbon drillhole in Europe), failed to establish the exact location of the deposit.
In Austria the Trans-Austria-Gas pipeline (TAG, from Baumgarten an der March, Lower Austria, to Arnoldstein, Carinthia) and the West-Austria-Gas pipeline (WAG, from Baumgarten an der March to the environs of Passau, Gemany) form part of the European gas pipeline network. Since 1968 these pipelines have not only served for transit shipments of Russian natural gas but have also carried gas to meet domestic demand.
Natural gas is partly stored in exhausted underground deposits at a depth of between 500 and 2,000 m. The chief locations are Matzen, Puchkirchen, Tallesbrunn, Schoenkirchen-Reyersdorf, Thann and Zwerndorf.
Natural gas reserves ("proved and probably extractable") amounted to 20.3 billion m3 in1997. Natural gas consumption in Austria increased from 4.4 billion m3 per annum in 1980 to more than 7.4 billion m3 in 1997, when approx. 19 % of Austrian demand was met from domestic sources.
Literature#F. Brix and O. Schultz (eds.), Erdoel und Erdgas in Oesterreich, 21993.