Hungary cools Ukrainian hopes for gas supply

Energy Trade

Hungary's National Development Minister played down Ukraine's hopes for a fast renewal of gas supplies, saying this country would not be able to provide so-called reverse natural gas flows to Ukraine before filling up its own storage tanks.

"We are filling up (storage) capacities and until then we are not able to provide reverse," Miklós Seszták told reporters on the sidelines of an energy conference in Bratislava, the Slovak capital, Reuters reported yesterday. Hungary's storage tanks are 71.2% full at 4.5 bln cubic meters, according to Gas Infrastructure Europe's website.

Ukraine will buy 1 bln cubic meters of natural gas from Russia by the end of the year and up to that same amount monthly through the winter, Ukraine's Naftogaz Chief Executive Andriy Kobolyev told the conference. Eastward gas flows from Poland and Slovakia have helped to meet demand, though Hungary in September stopped shipping supplies to Ukraine. Kobolyev said he hoped Hungary would resume deliveries as soon as December.

"We hope the supply of gas from Hungary will resume in December or January next year. We are in discussions with Hungarian counterparts," he said. Last week, energy affairs state secretary at the Hungarian National Development Ministry, András Aradszki, also said that Hungary could resume gas shipments to Ukraine from December.

In an interview with Reuters, Aradszki said there had been no pressure from Russian gas company Gazprom to halt gas shipments to Ukraine and said Hungary could technically resume shipments to Ukraine from December if Ukraine asks. "Restarting shipments (to Ukraine in December) will have no technical obstacles if Russian shipments are completed," he said. Aradszki added that a separate pipeline connecting Hungary and Slovakia could start operating with full capacity in January. It could pump gas either north or south.

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