Austria to tap fuel reserves again during refinery outage

(Reuters) - Austria said it plans to release fuel from its national reserves for a second time since an accident at the country's biggest refinery in June prolonged an outage that is set to continue at least for another month.

On June 3, two people were injured at OMV's Schwechat refinery when a part at a crude oil distillation unit exploded towards the end of a planned turnaround that has halted output at the site since April 19.

Having released petrol and diesel from the national reserves on June 4, the energy ministry said in a statement it now planned to release roughly the same amount of diesel again as well as a smaller amount of intermediate products from which finished petroleum products will be produced.

"Comprehensive security of supply for our country should thus be ensured, bridging the duration of the maintenance work in Schwechat," the statement said.

The plan must be approved by the main committee of the lower house of parliament, which is meeting on Monday evening.

Under the plan, 100,000 tons of diesel and 45,000 tons of intermediate products will be released. On June 4, the amounts released were 112,000 tons of diesel and 56,000 tons of petrol.

While there have not been obvious signs of fuel shortages - like long lines at petrol stations - there have been reports of retailers briefly running out of diesel or limiting the amount customers can buy.

Earlier on Monday, the opposition Social Democrats accused the government of dithering in addressing a national fuel shortage and urged it to tap the reserves.

The ministry said the reserves of crude oil and various products generally amount to 90 days' average national consumption, and the level was now at 67.5 days' worth before the second release, which would remove another 5.8 days' worth.

(Reporting by Francois Murphy; Editing by Jan Harvey and Bernadette Baum)

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