Hungary and Romania are in talks to increase the capacity of a natural gas pipeline interconnector that straddles their borders to more than 3 billion cubic metres (bcm) of gas per year, Hungarian Foreign Minister Peter Szijjarto said on Tuesday.
Szijjarto said the planned expansion of import capacity via Romania would enhance security of supply and offer a route for possible future imports from Greece, Turkey or Azerbaijan.
"We are in advanced discussions about a significant expansion of the capacity of the interconnector linking the natural gas networks of Romania and Hungary," Szijjarto told a news conference in Bucharest with his Romanian counterpart.
He said the interconnector can carry 2.6 bln bcm of gas per year to Romania and 1.7 bcm per year to Hungary, which would initially increase to 2.5 bcm and later to more than 3 bcm. He did not elaborate on the timeframe for the project.
Under a long-term deal with Russia's Gazprom signed last year, Hungary receives 3.5 bcm of Russian gas per year via Bulgaria and Serbia, and a further 1 bcm via a pipeline from Austria. The deal runs for 15 years.
Russia has promised to continue gas shipments to Hungary and that Gazprom will fulfil its contractual obligations to the country, Szijjarto said last month.
Hungary is about 85% reliant on Russian gas imports.
The European Union as a whole is seeking to wean itself off Russian energy following Moscow's invasion of Ukraine on Feb. 24 that has triggered supply disruption and a surge in energy prices.
(Reporting by Gergely Szakacs; editing by Barbara Lewis)