Since the start of the war in Ukraine, Europeans have been frantically searching for alternatives to Russian natural gas. Algeria has excellent opportunities to step up as a natural gas exporter as, without Russian exports, there is a great hiatus in the market. Algeria already exports natural gas to southern Europe and other countries prioritise Algerian imports too.
Robert Golob, the Slovenian prime minister, announced that Slovenia planned to build a pipeline to connect to the Algerian grid. This way Slovenia could reduce its dependence on Russia, and it would be able to transport Algerian natural gas to Hungary too. Slovenia has already signed an agreement on the already existing pipelines that run through Italy and could import Algerian natural gas. This agreement means 300 million cubic metres of natural gas a year, which can reduce Russian imports by a third for the small country.
According to Portfolio.hu, Golob said that they wanted to help their neighbours, Austria and Hungary to reduce their dependence on Russian imports. He added, that alone they would not be able to do this as they needed a connection to other grids. But, Hungary could import natural gas from all of its neighbours. Still, 85 percent of natural gas is imported from Russia through TurkStream from the south. However, Golob had a discussion with Viktor Orbán, in which they agreed that the goal was to build a pipeline that could be operational in 2-3 years.
The diversification of Hungarian imports is the main interest for Orbán. He pointed out three possible new sources for imports. The first option is the Algerian import through a new Slovenian pipeline. The second option is Romania, mainly the natural gas from the newly discovered underwater gas fields. Finally, the third option is to expand the Croatian connection, so that more LNG could be imported through ports. Orbán added, that Hungary was interested in all three options. The prime minister also said, that despite the already existing alternative pipelines, their capacity was not enough for total diversification.
The Slovenian route is important for one more reason. Golob added, that the new route would be able to transport hydrogen too. Hydrogen is a popular alternative to natural gas and it is much cleaner. The new pipeline would be a much-needed help for Hungary’s scheduled green transition. Finally, the North African infrastructure would be beneficial for multiple reasons. First, it would reduce the dependency on Russian imports. In the long term, it would allow reducing dependency on fossil fuels too.