Hungary’s gas supply strategy is solely dictated by infrastructure, Hungarian Foreign Affairs Minister Peter Szijjarto said on Wednesday at a conference in Bucharest, emphasising that Budapest rejects the notion of gas purchases being influenced by political matters.
The country’s gas procurement is limited by the existing infrastructure; “you can’t transport gas in a backpack”, the Hungarian Foreign Minister said at the Romanian International Gas Conference 2023.
One of the reasons Europe faces challenges in energy supply stems from turning the issue into an ideology, Szijjarto said. Despite pressure to diversify gas sources, Hungary faces obstacles from Brussels and some member states, unwilling to enhance the transport network’s capacity in the region.
Hungary would like to import larger quantities of natural gas from non-Russian sources, like Turkey, Azerbaijan or Qatar, but this is not possible due to limited transport capacity in southeastern Europe.
″Brussels opposes expanding gas pipelines in the region, claiming natural gas will become obsolete in the future. We don’t agree. The Commission’s refusal to finance new gas pipelines affects both Hungary and Romania’s interests”, he added.
“Indeed, we must remove politics from energy, but we cannot remove geopolitics”, the Romanian Energy Minister Sebastian Burduja replied, adding that the Eastern Europeans must be “more assertive” in negotiations with Brussels.
However, he emphasised that Russia’s invasion of Ukraine created the conditions to end EU dependence on Russian gas.
Ion Sterian, the general manager of Transgaz, the Romanian state operator of the national natural gas transport system, also criticised the European Commission for rejecting funding from the EU Modernisation Fund for Romanian pipeline construction projects.
He questioned the decision, especially regarding the infrastructure needed for future hydrogen gas plants.
Szijjarto stressed the need for Southeast and Central European countries to collaborate to remove regional bottlenecks and increase interconnector and gas pipeline capacities.
In this context, he criticised Bulgaria for imposing a tax on Russian gas, arguing that it could jeopardise the security of the gas supply for Hungary and Serbia.
(Cătălina Mihai | Euractiv.ro)
Read more with EURACTIV