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CEE states move to boost energy security

25. February 2010. | 09:26

Source: Reuters

Author: Krisztina Than, Gergely Szakacs

At their meeting in Budapest, Hungary, Poland, the Czech Republic, Slovakia, Bosnia, Bulgaria, Croatia, Serbia, Slovenia, Romania and Austria agreed to set up a so-called energy security triangle in the region to enhance safety of supply.

Leaders of central eastern European states agreed on Wednesday to boost efforts to diversify energy sources, focusing on the Nabucco gas pipeline and liquefied gas -- alternatives to dominant supplier Russia.

At their meeting in Budapest, Hungary, Poland, the Czech Republic, Slovakia, Bosnia, Bulgaria, Croatia, Serbia, Slovenia, Romania and Austria agreed to set up a so-called energy security triangle in the region to enhance safety of supply.

"It is a very broad and strong co-operation to ensure that fewer people have to endure sleepless nights or freezing temperatures because of any energy crisis in the region," Hungarian Prime Minister Gordon Bajnai told a news conference.

Bajnai said the framework would focus on the Nabucco pipeline, a pipeline which would carry liquefied natural gas (LNG) from the Croatian isle of Krk to Hungary, Slovakia and Italy, and an LNG port in Poland.

He said countries in the region must also enhance storage facilities and integrate their gas networks by building interconnecting pipelines, such as a link between Croatia and Hungary that is expected to be completed by the end of 2010.

"(The signatories) express their support to strengthen cooperation in further integrating their gas networks and diversifying routes and sources of supplies," a joint statement by the participants said.

They agreed to promote North-South links between the planned Croatian and Polish LNG terminals, foster implementation of the Nabucco and NETS projects and support the Constanta LNG terminal and similar projects in the wider Black Sea Region.

NETS is an ongoing central eastern European initiative to link gas transmission networks.

The region depends on Russian natural gas and disruptions in shipments during the gas crises of past years caused serious supply problems in most countries.

About 80 percent of Hungary's gas comes from Russia via Ukraine. It has boosted storage capacity since 2006 and now has a total of 5.5 billion cubic metres of commercial and strategic storage capacity.

Russia remains key supplier

Nabucco, which aims to transport up to 31 billion cubic metres of gas a year from the Caspian region to an Austrian gas hub via Bulgaria, Romania, Turkey and Hungary, would help reduce Europe's dependence on Russian supply.

Russia's Gazprom (GAZP.MM) backs the rival South Stream pipeline project which would also run through Hungary.

Earlier in the day, Bajnai told reporters Hungary also considered South Stream a realistic and key project as it would be an alternative route of supply for the region, but he added:

"If you ask my priorities ... a pipeline which is an alternative route and alternative source would mean the biggest competition and therefore the best prices for the region. A pipeline with an alternative route would only be a significant improvement compared to the current situation."

Bajnai stressed Hungary needed Russia in the long term in its energy supplies and said Russia could be included as one of the suppliers for the Nabucco pipeline on a commercial basis.

"What we would not like is that there is a single source supplying Nabucco, but if there are several suppliers, Russia could be one of those," he said, adding that this idea had not yet been discussed by Nabucco partners.

The Nabucco consortium includes Austria's OMV (OMVV.VI), Hungary's MOL MOLB.BU, Romania's Transgaz TGNM.BX, Bulgargaz, Turkey's Botas and Germany's RWE (RWEG.DE).


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22. February - 28. February 2010.