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South Stream deal dos not restrict other options

Finance Minister János Veres said that the government's agreement with Russia's Gazprom on building the planned South Stream pipeline does not restrict Hungary's other existing or future agreements.

Speaking during a joint meeting of parliamentary committees, Veres said that the arrival of gas to Hungary from more than one pipeline and an increase in storage capacity would enhance the security of Hungary's gas supplies. He said the intergovernmental agreement to be signed with Russian government in Moscow on Thursday to build the stretch of the South Stream pipeline in Hungary serves this purpose.

The Hungarian development bank (MFB) or its project company could become the 100% Hungarian state-owned company that will participate in the construction of the pipeline, Veres said.

The contract plan includes the construction of a gas storage facility with capacity of at least 1 billion cubic meters, he said. It does not require Hungary to purchase a set amount of gas, he added.

The cost of the investment is expected to be recouped in 15-17 years, Veres added.

Economy Minister Csaba Kákosy said the European Union does not object to Hungary's participation in the JV with Gazprom as long as it provides support and assistance for the establishment of the Nabucco pipeline as well.

Foreign Minister Kinga Göncz noted during the committee meeting that the South Stream pipeline would be built even without Hungary's participation in the project. Göncz added that the United States has acknowledged Hungary's right as a sovereign state to act in its own national interests with regard to the construction of the South Stream pipeline.

Kákosy noted that about 80% of the gas Hungary consumes comes from Russia via Ukraine. He added that three-fourths of Hungarian homes are heated with gas.

Kákosy said that the South Stream pipeline doest not compete with the Nabucco pipeline, it complements it. Nabucco is a matter of security policy and Hungary will continue to play an active role in the implementation of this important EU project, but the 30 billion cubic meters of gas the pipeline will deliver will be insufficient to meet growing demand in Europe, he said.

Göncz also stated that the two pipelines, which will boost energy supply in Europe by just 5% apiece, will not be enough to meet growing demand in Hungary and the rest of the EU. (MTI-Econews)