Hungary to Continue Buying Russian Gas if Exxon Fails to Invest

Hungary will continue to import gas from Russia if U.S. energy giant Exxon doesn’t fulfil its promises of investment in a Black Sea project in Romania, Hungary’s Foreign Minister Peter Szijjarto has said, according to Emerging Europe.

Exxon and Austrian energy group OMV‘s Romanian subsidiary, OMV Petrom SA, have put on hold a decision on tapping the natural gas field pending legal framework revisions. The field has been estimated to hold 1.5 trillion to 3 trillion cubic feet (42 billion to 84 billion cubic meters) of natural gas.

Szijjarto warned that Hungary may sign another deal with Russia if Exxon fails to resolve the issue by September.

“Exxon Mobil can be the game changer in the energy supply of Europe,” Szijjarto said in an interview with Reuters. “But they should finally make their final investment decision.”

The project is focused on gas deposits in the Romanian part of the Black Sea, which represent great potential for diversification of energy supplies for Central and Eastern Europe, according to London-based consultancy Deloitte. Once tapped, the reserves could reportedly generate $26 billion in revenue for the Romanian exchequer over the next two decades.

Hungary, along with other landlocked Eastern European nations, is seeking to diversify energy sources away from Russian supplies, and effectively diminish Gazprom’s dominant position in the market.

“The question of whether we will be able to diversify gas resources depends on four allies of ours: Croatia, Romania, the United States and Austria,” the foreign minister said. “It’s a strange situation where we are encouraged by our friends and allies to diversify, but basically it’s up to them.”