Fico: Alternative gas supply routes needed

SLOVAK Prime Minister Robert Fico is concerned by Russian gas giant Gazprom’s statement about ending gas supply transit through Ukraine to Europe and also by certain consequences stemming from the Ukraine crisis, the TASR newswire reported on April 21.

Prime Minister Robert FicoPrime Minister Robert Fico (Source: Sme)

Fico spoke on same day at the Visegrad Four (Czech Republic, Hungary, Poland and Slovakia) group conference on the topic of state material reserves. On this occasion, Slovenia is joining the V4 meeting.

“Should this threat materialise, it would represent a strong factor of instability in our region,” said Fico, as quoted by TASR, adding that the public is affected by events of a non-military nature such as threats of oil and gas crises and also floods and epidemics.

In the context of the change in gas routes, Fico warns that Slovakia may lose millions of euros in transit fees. He then called upon the national State Material Reserves (SSHR) to pay attention to alternative gas routes.

“Particularly the Eastring project that will supply Russian gas via Turkey, Bulgaria, Romania and either Hungary or Ukraine, and would terminate in Veľké Kapušany (Košice region),” said Fico.

According to Fico, the current Slovak gas pipeline will dry out and Slovakia will lose huge state budget revenues. He highlighted the future role of material reserves to ensure enough gas for domestic consumption.

Fico recalled the 2009 gas outage and said that the role of SSHR will be even more important than at that time. He criticised Ukraine's role in the dispute with Russia in 2009.

Nevertheless, Slovakia ensured a reverse flow to Ukraine last year.

“Without this gas, Ukraine would not have survived the winter,” Fico said, as quoted by TASR, adding that Slovakia guarantees 14.3 billion cubic metres of gas supply yearly. “We showed what is expected from partners, which is an elementary level of solidarity.”

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