The US has repeatedly taken position against Nord Stream 2, a Russia-sponsored pipeline planned to bring gas to Germany under the Baltic Sea. But this time Washington warned against another such pipeline, bringing Russian gas under the Black Sea.
US Energy Secretary Rick Perry called on Hungary and its neighbors to reject Russian gas pipelines which Washington says are being used to cement Moscow’s grip on central and eastern Europe.
Energy diversification would be crucial for the region, as Russia has used energy as a weapon in the past, he said, as quoted by Reuters.
“Russia is using a pipeline project Nord stream 2 and a multi-line Turkish stream to try to solidify its control over the security and the stability of Central and eastern Europe,” Perry added during a visit to Budapest.
Last July, Hungary signed a deal with Russia’s Gazprom to link the country with the Turkish Stream pipeline by end-2019.
Hungarian Foreign Minister Péter Szijjártó said Turkish stream, a pipeline under construction from Russia to Turkey, was good news for Hungary, as with annual capacity of 5 to 6 billion cubic meters one of its branches would bring gas to Hungary’s southern border via a new route.
It is still unclear what the route could be. The first pipe of Nord Stream 2 reaches the European territory of Turkey. From there, the route could be either via Greece and Bulgaria, or directly via Bulgaria. The second pipe could either be parallel to the first one, or bifurcate to Bulgaria, avoiding Turkish territory.
US President Donald Trump’s administration is seeking to encourage the purchase of gas from the United States or other suppliers rather than increasing purchases from Russia.
“[The] United States strongly opposes these projects and we urge Hungary and its neighbors to join us in rejecting them.”
Hungary largely depends on Russia for its natural gas supplies, which now mostly come via a pipeline via Ukraine. Russia is also building a nuclear plant in Hungary.
The government would be willing to buy gas from Croatia, which is building a liquefied natural gas terminal, and from Romania, Szijjártó said.
Szijjártó said that he had asked for US help to support Hungary’s diversification. A pipeline connection is not yet capable of carrying imported gas from the Black Sea via Romania.
Asked by EURACTIV what was the Commission’s position on Turkish Stream, a commission spokesperson on Wednesday basically said the EU executive needed to know more about the project.