Hungary to start talks with Qatar about buying LNG -foreign minister
BUDAPEST, Dec 14 (Reuters) - Hungary and Qatar have agreed that their state-owned energy companies will start talks about Hungary buying liquefied natural gas (LNG) from the Gulf Arab state, Foreign Minister Peter Szijjarto said in a Facebook video on Wednesday.
"It is in Hungary's interest to draw in new sources into its gas supply," Szijjarto said after talks in Doha.
European Union member Hungary largely relies on Russian gas and oil, and surging energy costs have contributed to a ballooning budget deficit this year.
Under the agreement, Hungary's energy group MVM will start talks with QatarEnergy about the possibility of supplying Hungary with LNG within three years, Szijjarto said.
"There needs to be an agreement between the two companies, and the agreement needs to make business sense, nevertheless, we have entered into a political agreement today and the talks can start," he said.
Qatar is already among the world's top LNG exporters and several European states, facing a spike in energy prices and a fuel supply crunch, have been in talks with the Gulf Arab state to reduce their reliance on Russian energy supplies.
Szijjarto added that in order for Hungary to be able to buy natural gas from Qatar, the European Union would need to expand the capacity of its Southern LNG terminals.
"If Croatia expands the capacity of its LNG terminal, as promised ... then it could be realistic for gas from Qatar to have a role in Hungary's energy supply within three years," he said.
Under a 15-year deal signed last year, Hungary currently receives 4.5 billion cubic metres (bcm) of gas per year via Bulgaria and Serbia under a long-term deal with Russia.
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