Azerbaijan could supply an extra 5bn cubic metres of gas to Europe, says economy minister

That's more than Slovakia’s annual gas consumption.

The signing ceremony, including Slovak Economy Minister Karel Hirman (seated on the far right).The signing ceremony, including Slovak Economy Minister Karel Hirman (seated on the far right). (Source: Courtesy of Eustream)

Up to 5 billion extra cubic metres of natural gas could be supplied every year to central and eastern Europe from Azerbaijan, interim Economy Minister Karel Hirman has announced. He was speaking in connection with a memorandum of understanding between gas transmission system operators from Bulgaria, Romania, Hungary, Azerbaijan and Slovakia signed on Tuesday, April 25.

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“Through gas pipes that already exist between our countries – that is, from Turkey through Bulgaria, Romania and Hungary to Slovakia – we’re talking about the possibility of supplying a total of up to 5 billion cubic metres of gas per year to all these countries, which is quite an interesting volume,” said Hirman, as quoted by the TASR newswire.

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The minister emphasised that gas from Azerbaijan would eliminate potential problems with supplies from Russia. He added that the new deliveries would not affect the price of gas in Slovakia, which are tied to market spot prices.

The memorandum

Hirman signed the memorandum of understanding to support cooperation between the Slovak pipeline operator Eustream, Bulgaria's Bulgartransgaz, the Romanian operator Transgaz, Hungary's FGSZ, and the Azerbaijani company SOCAR in Sofia, Bulgaria.

Related article Ukraine war shatters confidence in Russian gas flows Read more 

By signing the memorandum, the participating countries are sending a signal that they are ready to create a new corridor for the importation of natural gas to Europe, to cooperate with partners in Azerbaijan in doubling their gas exports to the European Union, and to contribute to the overall diversification of gas supplies in the region, the Slovak Economy Ministry said in a media release.

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Alternative gas supplies

The memorandum deals with the Solidarity Ring (STRING) joint initiative, supported by the European Commission, which aims to increase the security of natural gas supplies to the European Union and to central and south-eastern Europe in particular. The Solidarity Ring aims to upgrade the transmission network systems of Bulgaria, Romania, Hungary and Slovakia to enable additional gas deliveries from alternative sources, for example Azerbaijan, to European customers, Eustream specified on its website.

“The gas transmitted from Azerbaijan via south-eastern Europe to Slovakia could further reach other key EU markets, as Eustream has robust transmission capacities to all neighbouring countries, including Ukraine,” said Rastislav Ňukovič, general director of Eustream.

Experts see natural gas from Azerbaijan as one of the alternatives to gas imports from Russia.

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