Hungary banks on Balkan Stream to triple capacity of gas supply to Slovakia

Bulgarian PM Boyko Borissov and Serbian President Aleksandar Vucic inspected the construction of Balkan Stream on Bulgarian territory, 1 June 2020. [Facebook page of Boyko Borissov]

Hungary will triple the capacity of a natural gas pipeline border interconnector towards Slovakia by 2024, enabling the pipeline to carry more than 5 billion cubic metres of natural gas per year, the foreign minister said on Tuesday (2 June).

The increase will become important once the southern natural gas pipeline that will carry Russian gas through the Balkans towards Europe becomes operational, Peter Szijjarto added, recalling a recent agreement with Russia’s Gazprom.

Hungary lies along the route of Balkan Stream, an extension of the Turkish Stream pipeline that will carry Russian natural gas via Turkey, Bulgaria, Serbia and Hungary to the Baumgarten gas hub near Vienna.

The pipeline was officially inaugurated at the start of 2020 but construction continues around the Balkans to make it a viable replacement for the main route Russian gas has traditionally taken toward Europe, via Ukraine.

Bulgarian premier Boyko Borissov on Monday said that the country aims to complete its section by the end of the year, as he inspected the construction of the works with visiting Serbian President Aleksandar Vučić.

Hungary has also worked to secure alternative gas routes and sources to reduce reliance on Russian gas via Ukraine, which has proven sensitive to geopolitical developments in the past.

Budapest said it was in talks with several world market players to buy liquefied natural gas via an LNG port in Croatia once it becomes operational in January 2021.

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