Szijjártó presses ExxonMobil to take decision on Romania deal

Energy Trade

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Hungary will seal another long-term gas supply deal with Russia later this year if U.S. energy giant ExxonMobil fails to take a decision on investing in a huge offshore project in the Black Sea, Minister of Foreign Affairs and Trade Péter Szijjártó told Reuters on Wednesday.

Romania’s Black Sea reserves pose a potential challenge to Russian Gazprom’s dominant role supplying Central and Eastern Europe, Reuters cited consultancy Deloitte as saying, noting that tapping those fields could diversify the region’s gas supplies.

“ExxonMobil can be the game changer in the energy supply of Europe. But they should finally make their final investment decision,” Szijjártó told Reuters in an interview in Houston, where he was opening a diplomatic trade mission. “If they donʼt make that decision until September, I will have to make another long-term agreement with the Russians,” he added.

Hungaryʼs long-term gas supply contract with Russia runs until 2021, noted Hungarian news agency MTI.

ExxonMobil spokeswoman Julie King told Reuters that a decision on investing in the Neptun Deep project in Romania would require “competitive and stable fiscal terms, a liberalized Romanian gas market that enables free trade, and sufficient interconnectivity with neighboring free and liquid markets, in each case, for the duration of our concession agreement.”

Hungaryʼs government has made diversifying the countryʼs gas supply a priority, but Szijjártó said that achieving this goal depends on decisions such as the investment in Romania by ExxonMobil and the local unit of Austriaʼs OMV, as well as a planned liquefied natural gas (LNG) terminal on the Croatian coast.

“The question of whether we will be able to diversify gas resources depends on four allies of ours: Croatia, Romania, the United States, and Austria,” the minister told Reuters. “Itʼs a strange situation where we are encouraged by our friends and allies to diversify, but basically itʼs up to them.”

During his visit to Houston, Szijjártó met with executives of ExxonMobil, Flowserve, and National Instruments, saying all three firms had decided to expand their activities in Hungary. He told MTI that he had also met with representatives of Motivating Graphics, Aspect Group, JPMorgan Chase, and Alamo.

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