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viernes, 26 de septiembre de 2014


Hungary suspends gas supplies to Ukraine under pressure from Moscow

Hungarian prime minister Viktor Orban announces move after Russia threatens to cut off countries re-exporting its gas to Kiev
Hungarian gas distribution system
The Hungarian gas pipeline operator FGSZ's distribution facility in Kiskundorozsma. Photograph: Laszlo Balogh/Reuters
Budapest has announced that it will freeze its gas deliveries to Ukraine, as the Hungarian prime minister, Viktor Orban, said his country could not afford to run the risk of losing its own Russian gas supplies.
“Hungary cannot get into a situation in which, due to the Russian-Ukrainian conflict, it cannot access its required supply of energy,” Orban said on state radio following threats from Moscow.
Hungary’s gas pipeline network operator FGSZ said late on Thursday that it had suspended supplies to neighbouring Ukraine indefinitely for technical reasons, a move Ukraine’s state-owned gas firm Naftogaz described as “unexpected and unexplained”.
Orban’s statement followed a warning from Moscow that it could cut off European countries that have been re-exporting gas to Ukraine to help Kiev cope with Moscow’s energy sanctions.
The threat came as energy chiefs gathered in Berlin for EU-mediated talks aimed keeping Russian gas supplies to Ukraine flowing and preventing parts of the country being left without winter heating.
The European commission rapped Hungary, an EU member state, for cutting off its so-called reverse flow supplies to Ukraine.
“The message from the commission is very clear. We expect all member states to facilitate reverse flows as agreed by the European council in the interest of a shared energy security,” the commission spokeswoman Helene Banner said in Brussels.
The Hungarian move came days after a meeting in Budapest between Alexei Miller, the head of Russian gas giant Gazprom, and Orban, who often warns against damaging commercial relations with Russia.
“In the next period we will need large quantities of gas … We will receive this, I agreed this with Alexei Miller,” Orban said.
Russia is Europe’s biggest gas supplier, with Hungary one of 12 eastern and central EU member states that rely on Moscow for more than three-quarters of their gas.
Price disputes between Russia and Ukraine have led to cuts in supplies to Europe twice in the last decade.
The EU began reverse flows of gas through Hungary, Poland and Slovakia when Moscow ended all gas sales to Ukraine in June. Kiev had balked at paying a higher price Moscow imposed in the wake of ousting in February of the Kremlin-backed president Viktor Yanukovych.
Russia’s energy minister, Alexander Novak, told a German newspaper on Friday that reverse flows of Russian gas to Ukraine were illegal and could leave some nations without Gazprom supplies for the first time since 2009.
The EU insists the deliveries are legal.
Naftogaz has said Hungary’s decision to halt deliveries “goes against the core principles of the European Union single energy market”.

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