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Hungary vows commitment to paused South Stream gas pipeline project

November 19, 2014, 17:06 UTC+3
Hungary wants to resume negotiations on the South Stream pipeline
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©  AP Photo/Mikhail Metzel

Infographics Russian gas in Europe Russian gas in Europe
One-third of gas consumed in EU comes from Russia. Infographics ITAR-TASS
MOSCOW, November 19. /TASS/. Two senior Hungarian officials, one at home and the other on a foreign trip, have expressed their country’s firm commitment to Russia’s ambitious gas pipeline project to bring natural gas to Europe via a southern route bypassing restive and unreliable Ukraine.

Hungary’s Foreign Minister Peter Sijjarto, currently in Moscow on a visit said Budapest hoped Russia and the European Union would resume talks on the project, stalled since last autumn due EU objections.

“We do hope that the negotiations will resume and proceed fast,” Sijjarto said after talks with his Russian counterpart Sergey Lavrov on Wednesday. “South Stream serves the purpose of diversifying gas supplies to Europe. We are for South Stream’s full compliance with the EU requirements.”

Earlier in the day, Hungary’s energy affairs state secretary, Andras Aradszki, stated in Budapest that his country was firm in its intention to start laying its stretch of the South Stream gas pipeline despite European and US opposition, because it saw the project as the sole fuel supply option available at this point.

Aradszki told Reuters in an interview South Stream’s main rival, Western-backed Nabucco project, originally conceived as a means to deliver gas from Azerbaijan to Europe was hopelessly stalled.

“Nabucco will not be built, and after nearly ten years of hesitation, and especially in the light of the Ukraine situation we need to act. This is a necessity,” he explained.

South Stream is a global infrastructure project of Russia’s gas giant Gazprom for laying a gas carrier having a throughput of 63 billion kilometres (part of it under the Black Sea) to countries in Southern and Central Europe. Diversifying the export routes of natural gas and warding off potential export risks are the two-fold aim to be achieved. The ground stretch of the South Stream pipeline is to cross Bulgaria, Serbia, Hungary, Slovenia and Austria.

The European Commission in the autumn of 2013 launched an anti-monopoly investigation of South Stream on the suspicion it disagreed with the rules of the EU’s third energy package, mostly the provision for separating companies’ generation and sale operations from their transmission networks.

At this point the chances Nabucco, the hitherto abortive plan for a 3,300 kilometre trunk gas pipeline from Azerbaijan and Turkmenistan to the EU countries, first and foremost to Austria and Germany, will succeed in the foreseeable future look bleak.

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