Hungary declares ‘state of emergency’ over threat of power shortages

Hungary has declared a “state of emergency” in response to supply disruptions and rising energy prices in Europe.

The country’s government says it will now increase its domestic power generation capacity to ensure an adequate supply.

Gergely Gulyash, Hungarian Prime Minister Viktor Orban’s chief of staff, blamed the war in Ukraine and European Union sanctions on Russia for Europe’s “energy crisis”.

“It is unlikely that Europe will have enough gas for the autumn-winter heating season,” he said at a press conference in Budapest.

“The prolonged war and sanctions from Brussels have led to a sharp rise in energy prices across Europe, and in fact, most of Europe is already in an energy crisis,” Gulyash added.

Budapest says it will increase annual natural gas production from 1.5 billion cubic meters to 2 billion cubic meters.

The EU Member State is also planning to increase coal mining and rehabilitate a stand-alone lignite power plant in Matra.

Energy exports will be banned and Hungary’s only nuclear power plant will extend its operating hours to increase production, Gulyash said on Wednesday. Citizens were also ordered to “moderate their consumption or pay for excesses at the market price”.

Measures that run counter to Hungary’s climate commitments are due to come into force in August.

The announcements came after Orbán called a cabinet meeting to discuss what he called Europe’s “energy emergency.”

Hungary is heavily dependent on fossil fuels from Russia, and last year signed a 15-year deal with state-owned energy giant Gazprom to buy natural gas. Hungary receives about 65% of its oil and 85% of its gas from Russia.

The Hungarian Prime Minister opposed EU proposals to impose sanctions against Russian oil exports. arguing that such measures would harm the economy of his country.

Subsequently, the bloc agreed to temporarily allow oil imports from Russia’s Druzhba pipeline to some landlocked countries.

Earlier Wednesday, Hungarian Foreign Minister Péter Szijjártó also announced that Hungary would seek to buy an additional 700 million cubic meters of gas from an unknown country.