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Hungary, Slovenia consider gas and power grid links

Hungary and Slovenia are examining the possibility of linking their gas and electricity networks to enhance the safety of supply, their prime ministers said on Wednesday.

Hungary, which gets 80% of its gas from Russia, supplied Bosnia, Serbia and Croatia with natural gas in January through oil and gas company MOL during the Ukraine gas transit crisis, when millions in east Europe were left freezing.

Hungarian Prime Minister Gordon Bajnai said on Wednesday Hungary and neighboring Slovenia were exploring options on linking the gas networks of the two countries via MOL and Slovenia's main gas supplier Geoplin.

“We have talked about significant energy and infrastructure investments,” Bajnai told a joint news conference with his Slovenian counterpart Borut Pahor.

“The co-operation of MOL and Geoplin, the possibility of linking the Hungarian and Slovenian gas networks, which enjoy the support of our governments - and we also talked about linking the Hungarian and Slovenian electricity networks.”

Bajnai said energy security had emerged as a top issue in the wake of the January gas transit crisis.

Slovenian premier Pahor said through an interpreter: “We will sign a memorandum today which provides for a feasibility study on the linkage of Hungarian and Slovenian gas pipes.”

Russian gas accounts for about 55% of Slovenia's total annual gas consumption of about 1.1 billion cubic meters.

The two countries plan hold a joint government meeting later this year.

To boost the safety of supply in central and eastern Europe, the European Bank for Reconstruction and Development lent MOL €200 million in June to finance the conversion of an underground gas reservoir into a strategic storage facility. (Reuters)