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Hungary aims to fill gas storage to 100% on Ukraine supply 'threat': MFGT

London — Hungary aims to fill its gas storage stocks to 100% of their 6.3 Bcm capacity ahead of the "real threat" that Russian gas supply via Ukraine will be disrupted from January 1, 2020, a senior official at Hungarian state-owned storage company MFGT said Wednesday.

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Akos Kriston, deputy CEO at MFGT, said at the Flame conference in Amsterdam that the company had reduced its tariffs in order to attract more storage injections ahead of the upcoming winter.

Hungary has a total storage capacity of 6.3 Bcm, with MFGT holding the majority of the capacity.

"If there is no flow from Ukraine from January 1, 2020, there is the real possibility, the real threat that we might face problems," Kriston said.

Hungary has only filled its storage stocks to an average of around 40%-60% full over the past five years, but bookings for the upcoming winter are 100%, he said.

"We have offered very attractive capacity fees," he said.

There is concern that if Russia's Gazprom and Ukraine's Naftogaz fail to agree a new transit deal for Russian gas to Europe before the current agreement expires at the end of 2019 that supply disruption could ensue.

Gazprom supplied 7.6 Bcm of Russian gas to Hungary last year -- a year-on-year increase of 9.3% -- while deliveries so far this year are 1.1% higher than in the same period of 2018.

Hungarian foreign minister Peter Szijjarto said in March that Hungary could be supplied with gas from Austria and from Hungarian storage sites to meet its demand requirements.

Kriston said winter-summer gas storage spreads were "very good," incentivising traders to use the country's storage sites, particularly given the low fees offered by MFGT.

Asked whether Hungary had considered using Ukraine's vast storage capacity as an additional buffer for the upcoming winter, Kriston said traders had rejected the idea of using Ukrainian storage facilities due to the concern that "they might not get their gas back."

He also said the technical conditions of Ukraine's gas storage sites was not known.