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Hungary aiming for leading regional position in energy sector

Minister of Economics and Transportation János Kóka outlined for a conference on Thursday Hungary's plans to become a distribution center for the regional energy market. Kóka told the conference, organized by the Regional Energy Policy Research Institute of Corvinus University, that Hungary's role as a transfer center for gas from Russia would serve to harmonize the region's energy market. He added that the EU had failed to show adequate determination when dealing with the gas crisis at the start of the year. In January, Russia shut off gas to Ukraine because of a political dispute. As much of gas to Hungary and the rest of Europe passes through Ukraine, gas supplies fell sharply during the period and many industries were forced to use fuel-oil instead of gas. Kóka noted that Hungary is already well on the way to becoming a regional distribution center because of the role of the biggest Hungarian oil and gas company MOL Nyrt and the country's high level of infrastructure. MOL recently signed an agreement with OAO Gazprom on extending the Blue Stream pipeline, which delivers Russian gas under the Black Sea to Turkey, all the way across the Balkans to Hungary. The two companies also agreed to assess the possibility of building a 10 billion-cubic-metre capacity gas reserve in Hungary. Director of the Regional Energy Policy Research Institute Péter Kaderják told the conference about the institute's C3EM project, which aims to promote the harmonization of energy market regulation, under the framework of EU legislation, in those Central and Eastern European countries where reform and restructuring of the energy sectors are already well advanced. (Mti-Eco)