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Szijjártó says gas safe, even without Moscow-Kiev agreement

Minister of Foreign Affairs and Trade Péter Szijjártó said Alexey Miller, CEO of Russian energy company Gazprom, assured him at a meeting in Moscow on Thursday that gas deliveries to Hungary would continue next year even if Moscow and Kiev fail to reach an agreement on transit deliveries via Ukraine. 

“The issue of energy security has received a geopolitical tone in view of the fact that the transit agreement between Russia and Ukraine will expire at the end of this year and no new contract has been signed as yet,” Szijjártó told state news agency MTI following talks with Miller, as cited by official government website

“A situation could easily come about in which Russia will no longer be shipping gas to the European continent via Ukraine. We must prepare for this scenario, because we must always take into account the worst possible scenario when planning the security of the country’s energy supply,” he added.

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, MTI confirmed.

Szijjártó explained that deliveries via Austria, as well as Hungaryʼs reservoir capacity, unmatched in the region at 6.3 billion cubic meters, can meet part of household and industrial demand for gas, adding that Gazprom has agreed to let Hungary buy and take delivery of gas it will need in 2020 already this year.

The minister went on to say that the planning and cooperation necessary to ensure the security of Hungaryʼs energy supply in the long term has already begun. He said Gazprom is working with Bulgaria and Serbia to bring gas delivered through the TurkStream pipeline - to extend from Russia across the Black Sea to Turkey - as far as Hungary and Austria, adding that the necessary infrastructure investment would be minimal, and that the physical conditions for using the delivery route will be established by early next year.

During his visit, Szijjártó also met with First Deputy Chairman of the Federation Council Nikolay Fyodorov, First Deputy Minister for Foreign Affairs Vladimir Titov, Minister of Trade and Industry Denis Manturov, and Minister of Energy Alexander Novak.