From the point of view of Hungary’s energy supply, the Hungarian-Slovak gas interconnector is of historic significance, Prime Minister Viktor Orban said on Thursday at a ceremony to open the pipeline in Szada.
Orban noted that the pipeline would not be transporting gas of Russian origin into Hungary.
“Whatever happens to the east of us, gas will arrive in Hungary in any event,” he said.
He underlined the government’s aim of ensuring in Hungary the cheapest household and industrial energy in Europe.
Orban was joined by his Slovak counterpart, Robert Fico, at the transit station located in Pest County, for the ceremony.
The Socialist Party said in a statement that the opening of the gas link was a “ridiculous and hypocritical campaign stunt” since the pipeline was not yet ready to go online. Orban hailed a project that is in fact funded using EU money, yet he has always campaigned against creating a unified European energy market, Socialist lawmaker Istvan Jozsa said in a statement.
The Fidesz-led government has delayed the project to the extent that gas will only be ready to be transported in January 2015. It was the Socialist government that prepared the ground for the project, he added.
At the ceremony, Orban referred to the government’s earlier re-purchase of gas storage facilities and a stake in oil and gas company MOL. He said that now the Hungarian state has “all the means to guarantee safe and predictable gas supplies to households and businesses, whatever may happen in the world”.
Fico said the interconnector would greatly increase energy security, and thanked the European Union for contributing 30 million euros to the construction. He noted that a test run of the interconnector would start on July 1, while the pipeline would operate fully from Jan. 1 next year.
The interconnector is a 111km long pipeline — 92km of it between Vecses and Balassagyarmat on Hungarian territory — and can be switched to work in both directions.
At Thursday’s ceremony, Orban and Fico also signed an agreement on building 11 new road border crossings and 8 bridges to connect Hungary and Slovakia.