>>>Under memorandum signed in Bucharest, Romania, Bulgaria, Austria, Hungarry undertake to complete BRUA project
By Andra Beltz
The BRUA project is important for the European Commission and needs to materialize and the European Executive will do its utmost to keep it going, European Climate and Energy Commissioner Miguel Arias Canete told a news conference on Thursday , at the end of the meeting of CESEC (Central and South Eastern Europe Gas Connectivity) in Bucharest.
'When we had the gas crisis, we discovered that we were vulnerable and learned two lessons. The first is that interconnections are needed and, in order to have solidarity, we need reverse-flows. When we set the list of priorities, BRUA was one of them, so the European Commission is an important project that needs to materialize. It is true that there have been several recent events, but the first phase already has funding, the first phase will go further, and the Commission will do its utmost to keep the project going. Pipelines are difficult to achieve, "Canete said.
According to him, last year, the European Commission granted Romania a loan of almost 180 million euros for the first phase of the project, and our country promised to finalize it by 2020. The BRUA gas pipeline project will be completed in all four countries involved, according to a memorandum of understanding signed in Bucharest on Thursday, Romanian Energy Minister Toma Petcu told a press conference.
'We are at a very advanced stage with the BRUA project. We issued the building permit, we have conducting procedures for assigning the construction works, and contracts have already been signed for the design part and for the part concerning equipment for stations; in December the contracts for the execution part are going to be signed and pipe procurement is going to be finalised,' Petcu said.
According to him, it is very important that in December the orders to start the works be signed, so that by spring the actual works be prepared and actual construction may begin when temperatures permit.
'I want BRUA to begin at the same time in all four states, not only in Romania, but also in Bulgaria, Hungary and Austria, and I would like it to be completed, phase I and phase II at the same time, otherwise the goal for which this gas pipeline was approved and funded wouldn't be achieved. All ministers and the European Commission have undertaken that,' Petcu said.
He underscored that all four countries will complete the project, including its phase II.
'Under the memorandum signed today, all countries agreed, and it was very clearly established, that it will be a reverse-flow interconnection, that is both ways, in all four countries. That includes between Hungary and Austria. It was established that there will be this reverse-flow interconnection, and Austria made a commitment to complete phase I in due course, same as Hungary and Bulgaria, and all four countries have pledged to conduct phase II of the project and see its construction through within the established parameters,' said Petcu.
At end-July, Transgaz informed in a press statement that the BRUA pipeline would no longer cross Hungary, as the gas operators in this country, FGSZ, proposed that the gas volume coming from Romania be distributed from Hungary to Slovakia, Ukraine, Croatia or Serbia.
The Romanian gas transmission operator mentions that on 18 July 2017 it received a letter from Hungary's gas transmission operator, FGSZ, referring to the planned open season process to be carried out for the allotment of the capacities corresponding to the Romania - Hungary - Austria natural gas transmission corridor.
'Under the same letter we were informed on the fact that FGSZ cannot conduct the planned procedure due to lack of necessary approvals from the company's supervisory council because of economic efficiency issues. The Hungarian side proposed, for a change, to conduct the planned open season process only for the RO - HU interconnection point, and the 4.4 billion cubic metres per year gas volume, coming from Romania to be distributed from Hungary to Slovakia, Ukraine, Croatia or Serbia. Simultaneously, FGSZ would continue discussions with the gas transmission operator of Austria (Gas Connect), to identify possibilities of physical transmission from Hungary to Austria,' Transgaz representatives showed.