Hungary and Romania sign key energy deals

14 November 2023

Hungary’s Minister of Foreign Affairs & Trade, Péter Szijjártó, has signed key agreements with Romanian Energy Minister Sebastian Burduja that will allow Hungary to continue to rely on Romania’s cooperation in guaranteeing energy security. Szijjártó said on Facebook that he and Burduja had agreed to increase the capacity of the interconnectors between their countries’ gas networks so that Hungary could access as much of the gas extracted from the Black Sea gas fields as possible. Hungary and Romania will also begin preparations to link their electricity grids.

Meanwhile, Burduja assured Szijjártó that Hungary could continue to transport Russian nuclear fuel for its Paks NPP through Romania. “My Romanian colleague assured me that we can continue to transport the nuclear fuel needed to operate the Paks NPP through Romania,” Szijjártó wrote on his Facebook page. It is transported from Russia by ship [through the Black Sea] to Bulgaria, and there it is loaded onto a train and sent through Bulgaria and Romania to Hungary.” Use of the Black Sea route began after Russia launched its special military operation in Ukraine. Fuel assemblies are transported on a special vessel, guarded by warships, to the Bulgarian port of Varna, where they are loaded onto a train. Previously, nuclear fuel was delivered to Hungary by rail through Ukraine.

Earlier in November, Szijjártó, said a third shipment of fuel assemblies for the Paks NPP had arrived this year. “With regard to the operation of the Paks NPP, we have fuel rods at our disposal on site for a good long time,” he added. He said delivery of fuel rods would continue according to the contract, adding that cooperation with Hungary’s Russian partners was “excellent” in terms of the quality of the fuel rods and scheduling of deliveries.

The Paks NPP, comprising four Soviet-design VVER-440 units, accounts for about half of the electricity generated in Hungary. Further life extension for the plants, which were built between 1982 and 1987, is now planned. The Hungarian parliament has approved the extension of the units for another 20 years. Their current operating life would have ended in 2032-2037, and now it is assumed that they will work until at least 2052-2057. Their 30-year operating period was previously extended by 20 years between 2012 and 2017. Hungary is also building two new units. The Paks II project was launched in 2014 by an inter-governmental agreement between Hungary and Russia for two VVER-1200 reactors (units 5&6) to be supplied by Rosatom. The contract was supported by a Russian state loan to finance the majority of the project.

Image: Hungary's Minister of Foreign Affairs and Trade Péter Szijjártó (middle left) has signed agreements with Romanian Energy Minister Sebastian Burduja (right) that will allow Hungary to continue to rely on Romania’s cooperation in guaranteeing the country’s energy security

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