“Hungary would gladly diversify its energy sources, but the prerequisites for this are the construction of the necessary infrastructure and the making of the required investment decisions, and these, however, depend on our international partners”, Minister of Foreign Affairs and Trade Péter Szijjártó declared on Thursday at the 1st B2B energy forum held within the framework of the session of the European Union-United States Energy Council in Brussels.

The Minister reported on the fact that Hungary covers 100 percent of its natural gas supply from Russian imports, but does so “not out of fun”, but because this is the only option made possible by the current infrastructure. He said there is too much talk about diversification; it’s a good catchword, it sounds great, but it isn’t enough, and no effect of this is being felt in Hungary as yet.

At the press conference following the session, Mr. Szijjártó said energy supply remains “an extremely critical issue” in Central Europe, particularly in view of the fact that the investment projects that would facilitate diversification are moving forward far from smoothly. “It depends on our friends and allies, who are continuously calling on us to diversify, that we are able to become independent to some extent from our currently only procurement source”, Mr. Szijjártó said, explaining that it depends on the American-Austrian consortium consisting of Exxon-Mobil and OMV, and on Romania, whether extraction of natural gas can begin on the Black Sea gas field, and that the former is unable to make the final investment decision because of the Romanian regulatory framework.

“The situation is the same with the planned Croatian liquid natural gas (LNG) terminal, which would be capable of receiving American natural gas”, he pointed out. “Hungary would like to purchase 25 percent of this, but Zagreb has not tangibly commented on the proposal as yet”, he said. “It would seem that they would like to link the purchasing of ownership with contracts for subsequent shipments, but this is not in Hungary’s interests under the current circumstances”, he noted. The Minister added that in the mid-term, the Government would also like to assure that Hungary can procure natural gas via the Turkish Stream gas pipeline.

He indicated that the interconnection between Poland and Slovakia will be completed by 2021, meaning it will become physically possible to access the Polish pipeline and LNG terminals. “We have taken all of the necessary steps to assure Hungary’s gas supply in both the mid and long term. All scenarios must be kept alive”, the Minister declared. In closing, he underlined that as a result of its agreement with Gazprom, Hungary’s gas supply for next year is assured, and the storage of gas has already begun. On the sidelines of the meeting, Mr. Szijjártó held bilateral talks with EU Commissioner for Energy Policy Miguel Arias Cañete, U.S. Secretary of Energy Rick Perry, the participating Lithuanian and Portuguese ministers, and with one of the directors of Exxon-Mobil.