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Hungary declares 'state of emergency' over threat of energy shortages

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By AP  with Euronews
Hungarian Prime Minister Viktor Orban has criticised EU sanctions on Russian energy exports.
Hungarian Prime Minister Viktor Orban has criticised EU sanctions on Russian energy exports.   -   Copyright  AP Photo/Manu Fernandez, File

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 energy production capacities to ensure adequate supply.

Gergely Gulyás, chief of staff for Hungarian Prime Minister Viktor Orbán, blamed the war in Ukraine and European Union sanctions on Russia for Europe's "energy crisis".

There is “unlikely to be enough gas in Europe for the autumn and winter heating season,” he told a news conference in Budapest.

“The prolonged war and the sanctions from Brussels have caused energy prices to rise dramatically across Europe, and in fact a major part of Europe is already in an energy crisis,” Gulyás added.

Budapest says it will boost its annual production of natural gas from 1.5 billion cubic metres to 2 billion cubic metres.

The EU member state also plans to increase the extraction of coal and restore an offline lignite-fired power plant in Matra.

Energy exports will be banned, and Hungary’s only nuclear power plant will extend its operating times to increase production, Gulyás said on Wednesday. Citizens have also been ordered to "moderate their consumption or pay the surplus at the market price".

The measures -- which go against Hungary's climate commitments -- are set to go into effect in August.

The announcements come after Orbán convened a Cabinet meeting to discuss what he called an “energy emergency” in Europe.

Hungary is heavily dependent on fossil fuels from Russia, and last year signed a 15-year agreement with state energy giant Gazprom for the purchase of natural gas. Hungary gets around 65% of its oil and 85% of its gas from Russia.

The Hungarian prime minister has fought against EU proposals to target Russian oil exports with sanctions, arguing that such measures would cripple his country’s economy.

The bloc subsequently conceded to temporarily allow oil imports from Russia's Druzhba pipeline to certain landlocked countries.

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