The shipment of Azerbaijani gas to Hungary could become possible from 2021, and an agreement on the setting up of an energy working group to prepare for this was agreed upon by Minister of Foreign Affairs and Trade Péter Szijjártó and his Azerbaijani counterpart Parviz Shahbazov in Baku on Friday.

In a telephone statement to Hungarian news agency MTI following his negotiations in Baku, Mr. Szijjártó said: “Hungary has an interest in sharing in Azerbaijan’s increased natural gas production from 2021, and in gas shipments destined for Europe”. “This is extremely important to Hungary because the diversification of gas procurement routes has been on the agenda for a long time, but for various geological and regional reasons this could not be realised so far”, he added.

“There is now a realistic chance of this happening with relation to Azerbaijan from 2021, and that would greatly improve Hungary’s natural gas supply”, Mr. Szijjártó said.

The Minister drew attention to the fact that that the conflict between Russia and Ukraine is having an extremely serious effect on the Central European region, because the agreement that would ensure the continued shipment of natural gas to Central Europe from Russia via Ukraine from the beginning of next year has still not been concluded. This represents a particularly serious challenge for Hungary in view of the fact over half of Russian gas imports to Hungary arrive via Ukraine, he explained.

Mr. Szijjártó pointed out that last week he had already come to an agreement with Russian energy company Gazprom on the details of gas shipments for 2020, but in view of the fragile situation the gas procurement negotiations for 2021 also had to be started immediately.

“We are serious about the fact that improving Hungary’s energy security requires that we are able to procure the natural gas consumed in Hungary from several sources. Taking a look around the region, it would seem that one of the most viable scenarios with relation to gas procurement sources could be natural gas shipped from Azerbaijan”, the Minister said.

He drew attention to the fact that Azerbaijan exports 16 billion cubic metres of natural gas to Turkey and the Southeast European region each year, but three new gas fields have been discovered in the Caucasian country, each with a capacity of over 500 billion cubic metres, and preparations have begun for increasing the capacity of the gas pipeline to Southeast Europe from 16 billion cubic metres-a-year to 31 billion.

“This opens the opportunity for larger quantities of gas to arrive in the region, with relation to which no contract has yet been signed. Hungary has an interest in being able to purchase gas for Hungarian consumption from 2021, and this is why I agreed with the Minister on the setting up of a working group”, Mr. Szijjártó said.

(Cabinet Office of the Prime Minister/MTI)