(Bloomberg) -- Austria has started clawing back space at one of Europe’s largest gas depots that mainly serves German industrial users after Gazprom PJSC ignored rules requiring minimum storage levels.

The country’s industry regulator, E-control, started the process for assuming control over the underground Haidach site using a law which entered into force this month that allows Austria to seize critical storage spaces if operators fail to fill them to at least 10% of capacity.

“When clients don’t store, they need to pass it on to others,” Energy Minister Leonore Gewessler said on Wednesday. “This is now happening with Gazprom.”

Wresting control over Haidach marks a turning point in Austria’s energy relationship with Moscow. The Alpine country continues to get about 80% of its gas from Russia, whose cuts in natural-gas supplies are testing the European Union’s unity in response to the war in Ukraine. Companies are bracing for potential retaliation for Austria’s actions.

READ: Austria Prepares to Seize Giant Gas-Storage Depot From Gazprom

As a next step, Austria needs to agree with Germany on how to fill the depot, which has a maximum capacity of 33 terrawatt hours. Haidach traditionally has served industrial users in Germany’s Bavaria, and is not connected to the Austrian gas grid. 

The Austrian government has said it plans to build a pipeline connecting its own network with the gas facility. But that may take years, according to the national energy trader Gas Connect.

Haidach was built by Gazprom and Wingas GmbH at a cost of 300 million euros ($306 million).

It wasn’t immediately clear which part of the facility Austria was targeting with its steps. State-owned RAG Austria AG, which controls a third of the depot, has stored about 65% of its available capacity. 

Germany’s Federal Network Agency controls 55.55% of Haidach’s storage through Wingas and Securing Energy for Europe GmbH, or SEFE, which were seized from Gazprom earlier this year. 

In a statement Wednesday, Gazprom said it only owns about 11% of the site after Germany took control of its German gas subsidiaries.

READ: Central Europe’s Huge Gas Depot Risks Being Empty Next Winter


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