Signed by Minister of Energy of Azerbaijan Parviz Shahbazov, Minister of Energy of Bulgaria Rossen Hristov, Minister of Foreign Affairs and Trade of Hungary Péter Szijjártó, Minister of Energy of Romania Virgil-Daniel Popescu and Minister of Economy of Slovakia Karel Hirman, the agreement ensures the cooperation between the State Oil Company of the Azerbaijan Republic (SOCAR) and the four distribution system operators – Bulgartransgaz (Bulgaria), Transgaz (Romania), FGSZ (Hungary), Eustream (Slovakia).
The agreement is part of the Solidarity Ring (STRING) initiative, proposed by Bulgaria and supported by the European Commission, to improve the security of natural gas supplies to the European Union.
“Azerbaijan is a country that has been playing a strategic role in the reliable and stable energy supply of our partners for more than two years, thanks to the Southern Gas Corridor project. In today’s realities, it is very important to fully support the development of such infrastructure projects that ensure the delivery of natural gas from a reliable source to Europe and diversification of supplies. The implementation of the Solidarity Ring (STRING) initiative will allow participating countries not only to import gas from alternative sources, but also become important links in gas transit. The initiative also presents opportunities for expanding the Southern Gas Corridor project, contributing to the implementation of the terms of the memorandum of understanding in the field of energy between EU and Azerbaijan,” Shahbazov said.
“The European Union must take action to diversify gas supplies in Central and Southern European countries”, Szijjártó said during the ceremony, stressing that failure to do so would undermine the EU’s credibility in energy policy. “We need more sources and routes for gas and the EU must provide strong financial support for infrastructure development,” he added, calling for the involvement of new energy sources as a European obligation.
The signing ceremony was also attended by President of the Republic of Bulgaria Rumen Radev and President of the Republic of Azerbaijan Ilham Aliyev, who revealed Azerbaijan is planning to double gas deliveries to Europe by 2027, while EU Commissioner for Energy Kadri Simson addressed the gathering through a video message.