Austrian oil and gas company OMV is ‘not amused’ to see the Bulgaria-Romania-Hungary-Austria (BRUA) major pipeline project to have one of its ends in Hungary, because this makes difficult to sell the Black Sea offshore gas on the Western European markets, OMV’s board member Manfred Leitner said on Tuesday in London, quoted by Profit.ro.
“We’re not amused at all by the fact that BRUA pipeline stops now in Hungary. There is a discussion about attracting Slovakia into the project, but this is not a convenient solution for us, because it means larger costs for our clients,” Leitner said.
Within the next five years, Romania will become a major producer and exporter of natural gas, due to its offshore reserves located into its Black Sea exclusive economic zone.
But no real strategy emerged so far from the Romanian government concerning what Bucharest has in mind to do with the natural gas exceeding its current national consumption, a recent Business Review analysis showed.
At this moment, Austria is the key player for some other central European countries via its natural gas hub located in Baumgarten, and the new pipeline project BRUA (Bulgaria-Romania-Hungary-Austria) was viewed from Vienna as the perfect tool to strengthen its position on the European natural gas market.
But recently, a new player with limitless ambition emerged on the map: Hungary made two key moves in order to secure a seat at the table of the energy game.
First, in July 2017, Budapest announced that the BRUA pipeline, projected to connect Bulgaria, Romania and Hungary with the Baumgarten gas hub, will have its end in Hungary and will not have a connection to Austria (by doing so, the Hungarians cut the final A from BRUA, the project becoming BRU).
If many experts viewed the move as an attempt to secure a better position of Budapest in competition with Vienna, the second move raised questions about the real strategy of Hungary, a country with almost no energy resources, to become the dominant player on the energy market of the region.
On February 9, Prime Minister Viktor Orban announced, after his foreign minister paid a visit to Bucharest, that Hungary will soon sign a deal which will allow the imports of 4 billion cubic meters of natural gas each year from Romania over the next 15 years.