March 21, 2019 / 3:51 PM / 5 months ago

Hungary to buy 2020 gas supplies early from Russia - minister

BUDAPEST, March 21 (Reuters) - Hungary has struck an agreement with Gazprom to buy and store its 2020 gas supplies earlier than usual this year to offset the risk of Russia failing to agree transit terms with Ukraine, state news agency MTI reported on Thursday.

Hungarian Foreign Minister Peter Szijjarto told MTI after meeting Gazprom chief executive Alexei Miller in Moscow that Hungary would continue to receive supplies from Austrian pipelines, which carry Russian gas piped through other routes.

Hungary’s recently expanded 6.3 billion cubic metre storage capacity can guarantee safe supply through 2020, he said.

Gas supplier Russia and Ukraine, which have been embroiled in conflict over breakaway regions in Ukraine’s east, postponed gas talks in January until May.

Their transit deal expires this year and there is a risk that Russia will be unable to supply gas to Europe at all through Ukraine from 2020, Szijjarto said.

“We have to prepare for this scenario as we always need to take into account the worst scenario,” he told MTI.

Hungary will make additional infrastructure investments to ensure access to Russian gas by early next year through the TurkStream pipeline which is under construction in Serbia and Bulgaria, Szijjarto said.

The construction of Russia’s Nord Stream 2 pipeline to Western Europe will go according to the schedule and one third of it has been already built, the minister said, citing Miller.

Reporting by Sandor Peto; Editing by Jan Harvey

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