Bulgaria, Hungary, Romania, and Slovakia signed a joint declaration at the Riga summit (21 May) supporting the construction of the Eastring gas pipeline that should connect Central with Southeastern Europe. The memorandum, which does not specifically mention the name Eastring, declares the signatories’ “support for the implementation of interconnection and substantial bidirectional capacity of existing infrastructure for natural gas supply on the territory of the Republic of Bulgaria, Romania, Hungary and the Slovak Republic and for joint efforts to seek new sources and routes of diversification.”
According to one of the proposed plans, the pipeline should be 832 kilometers long, running through Hungary, Romania, and Slovakia, while another plan speaks about 1274 kilometers reaching Bulgaria. The main asset of this proposal is the fact that the Eastring would make use of the existing pipeline Eustream in Slovakia, which was finished before the 2009 gas crisis. Once completed, Eastring will offer direct and most cost-effective transportation route in between the Balkans and the rest of Europe. It will improve the security of supply as well as it will diversify natural gas sources.
The Eastring is meant to transport about 20 billion cubic meters a year at the first stage and 40 billion cubic meters annually when fully operational. The first stage should be completed in 2018. Potential gas sources for the pipeline are Russia, Cyprus, Iraq, Turkmenistan and Azerbaijan as well as Western European hubs for reverse flows.