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Hungary, Russia agree gas top-up, deliveries via Austria

Hungary will top up its gas reserves this year with deliveries of 2 billion cubic meters from Russia, with another 2 bln cubic meters of Russian gas coming via Austria next year, Minister of Foreign Affairs and Trade Péter Szijjártó said after signing agreements at the St. Petersburg International Economic Forum last Thursday.    

"Hungaryʼs supply of gas from Russia is ensured, guaranteed by the agreements signed today," Szijjártó told Hungarian news agency MTI. The deliveries to be placed in gas reserves for use in 2020 will be made by the end of September, he added. 

Hungary gets most of its gas from Russia via a pipeline that passes through Ukraine. The current agreement between Russia and Ukraine on the transit of gas bound for Europe expires on December 31, 2019, and the sides have still not signed another to replace it, noted MTI. Tensions between Moscow and Kiev in the past have resulted in interruptions of gas deliveries to Europe, it added.

Szijjártó said he had met with his Russian peer Sergey Lavrov, Minister of Industry and Trade Denis Manturov, and Minister of Energy Alexander Novak in St. Petersburg. 

Commenting on trade ties between Hungary and Russia outside of the energy sector, the minister said Hungarian drugmaker Richter would start manufacturing its antipsychotic cariprazine in Russia. The drug, branded Reagila, has already been registered in Russia and talks are underway on including it on a list of state-subsidized medicines, he added. 

Szijjártó termed economic sanctions against Moscow "unsuccessful" as they have not shaken the Russian economy or forced the implementation of provisions in the Minsk agreements. He called for a broad and thorough analysis of the sanctions, which he estimated have cost Hungary USD 8 billion in lost exports.

Meeting with Gazprom CEO

Later on Thursday, the Hungarian foreign minister also had a working meeting with Gazprom CEO Alexey Miller.

"The meeting participants examined the current issues and prospects of their cooperation, putting a special focus on gas supplies," Gazprom said in a press release cited by MTI.

The press release noted that Gazprom deliveries of gas to Hungary between January 1 and June 5, 2019, totaled 4.3 bln cubic meters, a 57.5% increase over the corresponding period a year earlier.

"In addition to the contracted amounts, Hungary bought from Gazprom another 2 bln cubic meters of gas, which will be delivered in 2019," Gazprom confirmed.

"Particular attention at the meeting was paid to the development of the Hungarian gas transmission system," added Gazprom. "The Hungarian party expressed its intention to make sure that the gas that is planned to be supplied to Europe via the transit string of the TurkStream gas pipeline can be received by Hungary in the shortest possible time."

The TurkStream pipeline will bring Russian gas to Europe via the Black Sea and Turkey, bypassing Ukraine, recalled MTI. Gazprom noted in the press release that it supplied Hungary with 7.6 bln cubic meters of gas last year, a 9.3% increase from 2017.