Hungarian Foreign Minister Peter Szijjarto said, on Wednesday, that in the matter of extracting offshore fields from Romania, so far Hungary has been left in the dark by an American and an Austrian company, after the purchase contract for three billion cubic meters of gas was already in force, but the project was eventually stopped, hirado.hu reports.
In the past years, consistent deposits of natural gas have been discovered and already partially exploited in the Romanian part of the Black Sea.
According to moderately optimistic estimates, it would be at least 40 billion cubic meters of gas, but it could be up to 200 billion – enough to cover Romania’s total needs for the coming decades and even sell for export.
In order to transport this gas from the Black Sea to European countries, it was planned to build a pipeline, within the project called BRUA, from the initials of the countries Bulgaria, Romania, Hungary and Austria. BRUA was supposed to start operating from 2019.
However, there was a Hungarian-Romanian dispute on the topic of Romanian legislation regarding offshore gas exploitation and the amount of gas that would be delivered to Hungary through the BRUA pipeline.
In the summer of 2018, the head of the Hungarian Gas Transport Network (FGSZ) Kristóf Terhes asked the Romanian authorities to adopt the offshore exploitation law and deliver to Hungary the quantity desired by this country of 4.4 billion cubic meters of gas per year.
Later, the Hungarian Foreign Minister, Peter Szijjarto, went even further, saying: “Romania would endanger energy security in the region through its delays.”
The Romanian has though rejected these accusations and some politicians and experts reproached Budapest for not respecting its obligations assumed in the BRUA pipeline construction project, Deutsche Welle reported.
The Orbán government has decided not to build a pipeline that would connect the BRUA project with the Austrian energy hub Baumgarten. Budapest’s argument: the already existing connections via Slovakia would be sufficient to transport the gas further, according to the quoted source.
Hungary complained to the Americans 3 years ago
Therefore, Hungary was pressuring Romania to start the exploitation of natural gas in the Black Sea. Attending an event in the USA, the head of Hungarian diplomacy said that there are four states that could rid Europe of dependence on Russian gas, and Romania is among them. Peter Szijjarto: “I can tell you that there are four allies on which it depends whether or not we can diversify our energy resources. Four allies: the United States, Romania, Croatia and Austria. Why? Because in Romania there is a huge deposit of gas in the sea for which Exxon from the USA and OMV from Austria have the exploitation right. Have they made a final decision regarding infrastructure investment? Not. Do we have the necessary infrastructure? Yes. What is missing is an American-Austrian decision to exploit these gases and then export them to Hungary. Of course, the two companies, American and Austrian, are not satisfied with the Romanian legislation, they always complain about this”.
Meanwhile, the American company ExxonMobil abandoned its investment and sold its stake in the Neptun Deep project in the Black Sea to Romgaz. And regarding the export to Hungary of Romanian gas extracted from the Black Sea, the subject is frozen for the time being, even though the Hungarian Prime Minister announced that three Hungarian companies won a tender for gas from Romania.
“Soon we will sign an agreement that will allow us, in the next 15 years, to import over four billion cubic meters of natural gas from Romania”, said the Hungarian Prime Minister two years ago. But nothing happened in the end.