Slovakia, Hungary Sign Eastring Deal
Slovakia and Hungary have signed a memorandum of understanding (MoU) on Eastring – the planned pipeline to connect central and southeast European countries.
"The Slovak Republic considers Eastring to be one of the most important projects to achieve the EU's goal of diversifying transport routes and enhancing energy security in the central and southeastern Europe region," Slovakia's economic ministry announced on its website, adding that the MoU was signed by its economy minister Peter Ziga and Hungary's minister of foreign affairs Peter Szijjarto October 30.
Eastring is a joint pipeline project between Romania, Bulgaria, Hungary and Slovakia. Its estimated capacity is betweem 20bn m³/yr and 40bn m³/yr and its aim is to reduce the participant countries’ heavy dependence on Russian gas flows through Ukraine to the east of the European Union.
Slovakia is also making "for effective preparation" for the construction of the gas pipeline, the ministry said. In July 2016, a similar memorandum was signed by Slovakia and Bulgaria.
Slovak gas transmission system operator (TSO) Eustream signed September 7 a feasibility study contract for Eastring. The contract was awarded to Hungarian engineering and consultancy company Euroil and the first working meeting was held with representatives of Euroil and the Eastring TSO partners: Bulgartransgaz, Romanian Transgaz, Hungarian FGSZ and Eustream.
The European Union’s Innovation and Networks Executive Agency (Inea) and Eustream agreed in May 2017 on funding for a study into the planned Eastring. The study will be funded under the Connecting Europe Facility with the sum up to €1mn ($1.12mn) or half the costs.
Eustream is expecting to be shipping less gas when Nord Stream 2 starts, although it should have financial security as Gazprom has a long-term ship-or-pay contract for 50bn m³/yr, which does not expire until late next decade. Among the sources of gas Eastring could carry is Black Sea offshore gas, where a number of companies are exploring off the western coast.
Gas could also enter the line from Russia, after crossing the Black Sea through Gazprom's TurkStream lines, which, along with Nord Stream 1 & 2 could cut Ukraine out altogether from transiting Russian gas.
Ilham Shaban, Dalga Khatinoglu