Serbia will continue to store gas in Hungary, as it did last winter because Banatski Dvor has not been expanded even after 12 years.
The energy agreements signed two days ago in Palić on the construction of a new oil pipeline from Novi Sad to Hungary, which will connect our country to the “Družba” oil pipeline, but also the establishment of a new joint venture “Srbijagas” and the Hungarian power company MVM should ensure a more secure supply of oil and gas not only this winter but also the next. Especially if it is known that the pipeline cannot be completed tomorrow.
What stands out, however, is the very scant information about the new joint venture for gas storage in Hungary. Until the details of the contract are known, it can only be assumed that this had to happen because the Banatski Dvor underground warehouse, where the majority Russian owner is “Gazprom”, has not been expanded, although it has been talked about for the past 10 years.
All this time, the public has been denied an answer as to why this storage is to be expanded from the current 450 to 800-900 million cubic meters. All the more so since in the last eight years since 2015, three agreements with the Russian side on expansion have been signed – in 2015 in Moscow, in 2016, and again in 2019, when the first man of “Gazprom” Alexey Miller initialled the agreement.
It remains unclear why Serbia, even before the arrival of “Gazprom” in Banatski Dvor, allowed it not to have its own warehouse. But if it was already like that, and we realized that the expansion of that warehouse has nothing to do with “Gazprom” either, why was the 13-year-old idea of building an underground warehouse in Itebej not realized? That work was estimated at around 100 million euros, which is not a small amount, but the profit for our country would be multiple. On the one hand, energy security at all times, and on the other, commercial profit, because they would buy gas when it is cheaper and when it is available, refuel it in their storage, for which, therefore, they would not pay rent to anyone, and sell it when gas is more expensive. The warehouse is located about 40 kilometres from Zrenjanin.
Be that as it may, it is important to have gas for the next winter, and obviously a joint venture in Hungary was the only solution at this time, taking into account the fact that we stored gas in this country last winter as well. Minister of Energy Dubravka Đedović stated after the signing in Palić that “Hungary is supplied with gas from the Balkan Stream via Serbia, and Serbia stores part of its gas reserves in Hungary.”
When it comes to the construction of a new oil pipeline, the signatories of the agreement were somewhat more specific, so it is also known that the estimated value of the project for a capacity of 5.5 million tons per year is 157 million euros for the Serbian section of the pipeline. It is planned that the new oil pipeline will go along the Sazhalombat – Alđe – Roska – Novi Sad route, with a total length of 304 kilometres, with a potential extension to Thessaloniki and Durrës. In recent years, the “company” has been transporting not only Russian but also Kazakh oil, to which that country has the right.
Namely, the EU sanctions against Serbia were only a threat that when they came into force, the Croatian JANAF would not be able to provide services to the majority of Russian-owned company, NIS, but these problems were overcome. The only thing NIS had to do, like all other companies from the EU, was to replace part of the imported oil of Russian origin with oil of another origin. However, this company did not import exclusively Russian oil, but only a part of it.
The relevant ministry then announced that after the adoption of the eighth package of EU sanctions, in which the countries of the Western Balkans are not exempted from the ban on the import of crude oil from Russia by sea, it is looking at all possibilities to ensure diversification in the field of crude oil supply.
MOL: security of supply through closer cooperation asked to comment on the signing of energy agreement with Serbia, the MOL company pointed out to “Politika” that this Hungarian energy company remains convinced that security of supply in the region of Central and Eastern Europe can only be achieved through the closest possible cooperation between the two countries.
Any new connection of the energy infrastructure of neighbouring countries is welcome and is an important development that will contribute to the security of the energy supply for the citizens of the region and their economy. In accordance with the cooperation agreement between the governments of the Republic of Serbia and Hungary, the MOL company is open to the technical implementation of the oil pipeline connecting the two countries according to the most modern standards.
Discussions on the construction of a new oil pipeline between the companies MOL and “Transnafta” has begun, but in order to work out the technical details, it is necessary to continue negotiations and close cooperation. In addition to aspects of security of supply, the commercial interests of the companies involved in the project must certainly be taken into account in the final design.