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Historic Progress? Hungary to Import Gas from Romania

Ábrahám Vass 2018.02.07.

Romania will establish the technical conditions for gas exports to Hungary by 2020 in line with an agreement signed by foreign ministers Péter Szijjártó of Hungary and Teodor Meleșcanu of Romania in Bucharest.

From 2022, large volumes of gas extracted on the Black Sea will be available to Hungary. According to Szijjártó, Hungarian companies have reserved the entire 4.4 billion cubic metres annual capacity on the new supply route, adding that

This is the first opportunity in the past few decades that Hungary can buy large volumes of gas from a non-Russian source.

Going further, he hailed the cooperation pact as

historic progress towards Hungary’s energy security.

“Hungary’s government has decided to build the missing pipeline link between the central gas distribution hub in Városföld and Vecsés, where the Slovak-Hungarian gas pipeline ends. With this link, the north-south gas corridor, a facility crucial for national security in central Europe, will be complete,” he said.

The two countries agreed that the first TGV-type rail link of the region should be established between Budapest and Cluj (Kolozsvár). The Hungarian government has earmarked 1 billion forints (EUR 3.3m) for the feasibility study of the project, Szijjártó said, adding that Hungary has nothing against Romania’s plan to extend the line to Bucharest. As Romanian newspapers noted, the average speed of the trains in Romania is currently 45 km/h.

Talks in Bucharest proved to be successful in a number of questions. Photo: KKM.

The Hungarian government certainly regards energy security as top priority. Hungary, like Europe as a whole, is highly dependent on Russian natural gas, which can make countries vulnerable; for exemple during the 2009 crisis, when, due to a price dispute, Russia halted gas flows through Ukraine, cutting off completely supplies to Southeastern Europe. Hungary’s Expansion of Paks nuclear plant, which some observers have viewed as another step towards energy independence, has at the same time been criticised due to Russian involvement, as well as safety and environmental concerns.

image: Túry Gergely