Hungarian experts have a controversial view on the gas supply contract with Gazprom. Behind the propaganda of success, there are serious, long-term questions, for which there are no answers yet. We spoke to energy expert Attila Holoda, former Deputy State Secretary for Energy in the Orbán government.
Hungary and Gazprom’s 10year gas supply contract, which excluded Ukraine from being the transit country for the deal, has caused a major international storm. What do you think about the contract?
I am not thrilled. We adopted Hungary’s energy strategy in 2011 and the contract goes against it. The key slogan was ‘independence from energy dependence’. This document was adopted by Parliament in October 2011.
Is this strategy still in force?
On 8 January 2020, a new energy strategy was adopted. Curiously, it was no longer adopted by Parliament, but only by the government. Nevertheless, the original idea of independence has been retained in this new document, with some shifts in emphasis. A greater role has been given to green energy and to improving the energy efficiency of buildings.
So why have we built so many pipelines that we now have so-called cross-border capacity with all neighbouring countries (except Slovenia). The aim was precisely not to be dependent solely on the Russians. We have also built a huge storage capacity of 6.4 billion cubic metres. This is oversized compared to the country’s consumption, which was also for the purpose of independence, so that we are able to supply ourselves from storage for up to 1 year.
Moreover, these decisions have been confirmed by the market, which has been very buoyant in Europe since 2011, thanks also to the arrival of US shale gas. There were more and more traders and more and more gas appeared on the European market, which was very good because the price of gas kept falling.