BUCHAREST, Romania (AP) – The leaders of Hungary, Romania, Georgia and Azerbaijan signed an agreement Saturday on an underwater electricity connector that could become a new source of energy for the European Union amid energy supply constraints caused by the war in Ukraine.
The agreement envisages a cable running under the Black Sea that would connect Azerbaijan to Hungary via Georgia and Romania.
The deal comes as Hungary, which has lobbied heavily against EU sanctions against Russia over its war in Ukraine, looks for additional sources of fossil fuels to reduce its heavy reliance on Russian oil and gas.
Azerbaijan plans to export electricity from offshore wind farms to Europe via Georgia, a cable under the Black Sea, and then to Romania and Hungary.
The office of Romanian President Klaus Iohannis announced on Friday that the agreement between the four countries would provide the “financial and technical framework” for the undersea electric cable project.
The goal of the project is to diversify energy supply and increase regional energy security, the statement said.
On Friday, Romanian natural gas producer Romgaz also said it had signed a contract with Azerbaijan’s state oil company to receive natural gas through the so-called Southern Gas Corridor, with supplies starting Jan. 1. strategic goals” regarding the diversification of natural gas sources.
Hungarian Foreign Minister Peter Szijjártó said in August that Azerbaijan would soon produce “a large amount of green electricity” with offshore wind farms, and that by signing a link project that could bring that energy to Europe, Hungary was complying with the requirement. Two EU member states participate in order to receive financing from the alliance for investments.
Szijjarto said the project could be completed within three or four years and that it would be a major step towards diversifying energy supplies and achieving carbon neutrality goals.
This week, Szijártó met with officials from both Qatar and Oman about potential future imports of oil and natural gas from the two Middle Eastern countries to Hungary, another sign that Hungary is taking steps to cut 85% of its natural gas and more than 10% of its oil. 60% of which is currently received from Russia.
Hungarian Prime Minister Viktor Orbán, Romanian President Iohannis, Georgian Prime Minister Irakli Gharibashvili and Azerbaijani President Ilham Aliyev attended the signing event in Bucharest on Saturday along with European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen.
Spike reported from Budapest. Stephen McGrath contributed to Bucharest.