Minister of Economics and Transportation János Kóka outlined his proposal to create a national energy council to review Hungary energy's strategy in light of economics, foreign affairs, security and social policy, at a joint meeting of Parliament's Economics Committee and Foreign Affairs Committee on Monday.
Kóka said the council should include government and opposition members as well as representatives of interest groups, businesses and the Hungarian Academy of Sciences. The chairman of oil and gas company Mol, Zsolt Hernádi, expressed support for the proposal. He said it was important that the public should be made aware of the costs of ensuring the security of their energy supply. Hernádi added that the issue of using alternative energy resources needed to be handled with care, because as long as big countries, such as the United States, avoided this path, pursuing it in Hungary would put the country at a competitive disadvantage. Kóka said one of the issues the council would discuss was the possible construction of a second nuclear power plant, even if the lifespan of the Paks Nuclear Power plant is extended.
The National Atomic Energy Office must decide by the end of 2007 whether to extend the lifespan of the plant's Block I, which ends in five years. The lifespan of the other three blocks will end in the years until 2017. Members of the two parliamentary committees suggested that an energy policy be drawn up before the creation of an energy council. Kóka responded saying that guidelines for Hungary's energy policy are currently under discussion by government experts and would come before Parliament in the spring. Chairman of the foreign affairs committee Zsolt Németh, a member of opposition Fidesz, noted that Russia is an unreliable supplier of energy to Hungary, citing a disruption along the Druzhba pipeline a week earlier because of a row over tariffs between Russia and Belarus. Hernádi pointed out that Russia had reliably delivered oil to Hungary for ten years and gas for 30 years. He said the Druzhba pipeline disruption had not jeopardised Hungary's oil supply. (Mti-Eco)