Slovakia, Hungary, Romania and Bulgaria embark on gas pipeline project

Mirek Topolánek [European Commission]

At the Riga summit yesterday (21 May) Slovakia, Hungary, Bulgaria and Romania signed a Joint Declaration backing the idea of building the Eastring gas pipeline, designed to link Central with Southeastern Europe. However the name Eastring doesn’t appear in the document.

In an exclusive interview with EURACTIV on 7 May, Mirek Topolánek, former Prime Minister of the Czech Republic, provided ample explanation of the project.

Eastring is a proposed pipeline, a version of which is 832 kilometres long, and runs across Slovakia, Hungary and Romania, while another version is 1274 kilometres long, and reaches Bulgaria.

>>Read: Former Czech PM promotes Eastring gas pipeline

One of its advantages is that Eastring uses the existing infrastructure of Eustream on Slovak territory, which was completely renovated after the 2009 gas crisis.

It is designed to transport gas in both directions, with a capacity of 20 billion cubic metres a year (bcm/y) at the first stage and 40 bcm/y at the final stage. Potential gas sources for forward flows are Azerbaijan, Turkmenistan, Iraq, Cyprus and Russia, while for the reverse flow, it is gas from Western European hubs. The optimistic target date for building the first stage of the pipeline is 2018.

At the time of the interview, the support of Bulgaria and Romania was not yet certain. But now it appears that all countries are on board. EURACTIV obtained a copy of the signed memorandum by the foreign ministers of the four countries, in which the name Eastring doesn’t appear.

“The Parties to this document hereby declare their support for the implementation of interconnection and substantial bidirectional capacity of existing infrastructure for natural gas supply on the territory of the Republic of Bulgaria, Romania, Hungary and the Slovak Republic and for joint efforts to seek new sources and routes of diversification. The present document records political intent only. No provision of this Declaration sh?ll be interpreted and implemented as creating legal rights or commitments for the States of the Parties,” the document reads.

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