Hungary lifts gas restrictions, offers help to Slovakia

January 16th, 2009 - 12:18 am ICT by IANS  

Budapest, Jan 15 (DPA) Hungary has lifted its restrictions on domestic gas use despite its main supply route staying closed in the ongoing row between Ukraine and Russia over pricing, Energy Minister Csaba Molnar said Thursday.Molnar also confirmed that the Hungarian energy company MOL is ready to deliver one to 1.5 million cubic metres of gas to Slovakia, if needed.

In addition, Hungary has offered to supply electricity to its northern neighbour, the minister said.

Although there is still no gas coming in from Ukraine, Hungary’s gas distributor FGSZ Thursday lifted its “level one” restrictions that apply to large industrial gas consumers.

Unexpectedly mild weather Wednesday caused domestic consumption to drop to 58 million cubic metres, and it was expected to fall further Thursday.

Hungary’s large underground gas stores can be tapped at a rate of up to 53 million cubic metres per day, while domestic production accounts for a further 9 million, and 4 million was expected from Austria for domestic consumption Thursday.

A further 3.7 million cubic metres of gas from Austria was earmarked for transit to the Balkans: 2.7 million for Serbia and one million for Bosnia-Herzegovina.

Hungary normally receives about three quarters of its gas either directly or indirectly from Russia.

The main supply pipeline from Ukraine was shut off Jan 6 during the ongoing row between Ukraine and Russia over pricing.

Restrictions on gas use by heavy commercial and industrial consumers were put in place the day after Russian gas stopped flowing via Ukraine.

However, large stores of gas kept Hungarians warm during the 10 days since the pipeline was closed.

Hungary still had 2.8 billion cubic metres of gas in its commercial underground stores and a further 500 million cubic metres in strategic reserves as of Thursday, Molnar said.

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