Budapest, March 23 (MTI) – Building on its storage capacity, Hungary could become a regional gas distribution hub, Russia’s ambassador told business daily Napi Gazdasag.
Hungary has an interest in setting up a regional gas distribution centre with a view to enhancing the security of its supplies, Sergeev Vladimir Nikolaevich told the paper in an interview published on Monday.
With enough capacity to store close to 6 billion cubic metres of gas, Hungary ranks fifth among EU member states, he noted, adding that Russian gas could be used to fill up this capacity in the foreseeable future. Such a project requires political cooperation between Hungary and Russia, and its possible success “could elevate the two countries’ energy cooperation to an unprecedented level of strategic partnership built on mutual benefits.”
Nikolaevich noted an agreement Russian energy giant Gazprom had concluded with Hungarian electricity company MVM, under which a total of 700 million cubic metres of Russian gas was pumped into Hungarian stores late last year, was sufficient to guarantee supply to Hungarian households during the winter season at a time when the transit route for Russian gas to Hungary via Ukraine had become exposed to significantly increased risk.
The ambassador said that now the South Stream gas pipeline project between Gazprom and countries of the region had failed due to the European Commission’s veto and the European Parliament’s negative approach, a Turkish Stream pipeline would be built to run to the Turkish-Greek border. But the question remains how gas would reach Hungary and other countries in the region from that geographic point, he said.
Asked whether Gazprom would participate in the construction of a pipeline to link Turkish Stream with Hungary, the diplomat said that “if Gazprom finds it in its own interest then the company could be among the investors, but probably it will not play a leading role in this project.”
Commenting on the upgrade of Hungary’s sole nuclear power plant at Paks, the ambassador said that although a recent drop of oil prices had forced Russia to make cost savings, this would not upset its related commitments towards Hungary.
Hungary signed an intergovernmental agreement with Russia in January last year on the construction of two new blocks at its sole nuclear plant with a 10 billion euro Russian loan.
Concerning bilateral trade relations, the ambassador said that EU sanctions against Russia and retaliatory measures stood in the way of Hungary’s exports to Russia. The policy of sanctions and counter measures has had a negative effect on both sides, he said. “The sooner we close this chapter of sanctions, the faster we can restore our economic relations to a normal level.”