New vistas are opening up for energy supplies in central Europe, Péter Szijjártó, the minister of foreign affairs and trade, said in southern Slovakia after talks with his Slovakian counterpart, Peter Ziga. The two officials agreed that the two countries will help each other out in the event of a gas supply crisis. Szijjártó said preparations must be made in advance of changes in the region’s energy supplies.
Speaking at a Hungary-Slovakia gas interconnector station that opened four years ago, the minister said there were three main considerations: whether gas supplies to central Europe would transit through Ukraine from next year; whether the North Stream 2 gas pipeline would be extended on the basis of permits issued by the Danish authorities; and given the speedy construction of the Turkish Stream, whether a south-to-north gas corridor would operate from October 2021, piping Russian gas through Turkey, Bulgaria, Serbia and Hungary to Slovakia.
If gas supplies via Ukraine do not materialise, infrastructure must be put in place by the end of the year to deliver supplies to eastern Hungary from the west and north, Szijjártó said. Also, the upgrade of the gas pipeline crossing the Serbian-Hungarian border must be completed, he said. Further, Slovakia and Hungary must ensure that bi-directional gas interconnectors can fill any potential void from the east. Work has already started on the latter, he noted, and the Slovak-Hungarian gas interconnector will operate at a higher capacity, with further technical improvements allowing 7 billion cubic meters of gas to be piped in both directions.
“This also gives Hungary and Slovakia security leeway to supply the population and the Slovak and Hungarian industries if there is a sustained disruption to eastern gas supplies,” Szijjártó said.
Ziga said it was vitally important to find a Slovak-Hungarian solution to any gas outage from the east as neither the European Union nor anyone else would come up with a solution if supplies “are suddenly shut down in January”.