EC calls on Romania and Hungary for further cooperation on BRHA pipeline, for achieving security in gas supply


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The European Commission further supports the BRHA pipeline original project and the issues with the Hungarian party should be solved in an intelligent way, as cooperation in the region is needed in order to achieve security in terms of gas supply, European Commissioner for Energy, Miguel Arias Canete (photo), has said on Friday during an energy summit in Sofia, Bulgaria, informs.

The statement comes in the context of tensioned declarations from Budapest, which has decided to change the BRHA project, saying that there is no need for a pipeline to connect Hungary and Austria, as the one connecting Hungary to Slovakia and Austria is already there, with lower costs.

Hungarian Foreign Minister, Peter Szijjarto, accused Romania, while in Washington DC, of violating international commitments regarding the interconnection of gas pipelines and of ensuring the reversibility of gas flows. Peter Szijjarto said that it is important to maintain pressure on Romania to begin the extraction of gas from its Black Sea reserves as of 2022.

The European Commissioner said: “We see the building of the Bulgaria-Romania- Hungary-Austria (BRHA) pipeline has started in the Romanian sector. As you know, the European Commission is contributing with a decisive funding and I am pleased to find out that Romania is making very good progress with the actual implementation of the project, so that it becomes operational by the end of 2019.”

Miguel Arias Canete said the BRHA pipeline is a joint strategic project extremely important in order to diversify the supply resources, which will increase competition and will lead to lower prices, congratulating Romania for the progress.

“Romania is doing an excellent job. The strengthening of Romania’s infrastructure is an essential condition to complete the BRHA corridor. Certainly, BRHA is a really important infrastructure. The benefits will be huge, to diversify the supply routes and to increase security at the same time. The EC has supported this project from the very beginning,” Commissioner Canete said.

He reminded that the EC has offered a grant of EUR 179 million for building the pipeline.

“We expect this project to go further according to the agreed schedule, so that it is completed next year. I hope it would be an example for the other participants, and that the current problems coming from Hungary and the other participants to the project will be solved in an intelligent way,” he added.

Canete has showed the original BRHA map, connecting Bulgaria, Romania, Hungary and Austria.

He stressed that the region is most affected by interruptions in supply and the prices are higher than in western European countries, although the region is closer to Russia, the main supplier. This is why cooperation is need between the countries in the region, the European official said.

According to the event’s agenda, in Sofia will take place a symbolic ceremony to mark the start of works to the BRHA project.

On Wednesday, in Bucharest, took place a conference organised by the Hungarian gas transmission operator, FGSZ – with no Romanian official attending, not even a representative of the Romanian gas operator, Transgaz. Transgas and FGSZ are partners in the BRHA pipeline project. FGSZ head, Kristof Terhes, launched several provocative messages regarding the output of natural gas in the Black Sea, the gas consumption in Romania and the interconnection with the BRHA pipeline.

The FGSZ manager said the Black Sea gas production will reach Hungary, from there on to Slovakia and indirectly to Austria, with supplies to Ukraine, Serbia and Croatia as well. The message is that the distribution of the Romanian gas will take place in Hungary.

He ironically said Romania does not have the capacity to consume the gas from the Black Sea, as there is no petro-chemical industry and the population is connected to the gas network in a share of 30-35%, whereas in Hungary the share is 95%.

“You don’t have petro-chemical industry, you can’t use the gas as raw material. What are you going to do with the gas? Burn it, make a big fire?” Kristof Terhes asked.

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