BUDAPEST, Hungary, Sept. 9 (UPI) -- European energy leaders in Budapest signed off on grants to help bolster energy diversity schemes they said Friday were already having tangible results.
European Commission Vice President Maros Sefcovic and European Energy Commissioner Miquel Arias Canete met with 12 of their counterparts in Budapest to sign off on infrastructure and regional cooperation agreements.
Gas projects dubbed the Vertical Corridor – networks extending from Greece to Hungary – and a supporting grant of around $200 million were signed by minister in Budapest. European leaders said during the signing ceremony that multilateral work had already yielded results and further progress on energy security and diversity was expected.
"I'm glad that our cooperation in the region has produced tangible results: Bulgaria now has access to liquefied natural gas and Ukraine will soon have it too," Canete said in a statement.
The commission early this year supported Finland's plans to grant $31.5 million to build a terminal for LNG at the Hamina port on the country's southern coast. By ending energy isolation for Baltic states, the European body said the strategy is in line with regional efforts to improve energy security.
U.S. lawmakers have backed European gas diversification schemes, expressing concerns over Russia's grip on the regional energy sector. LNG supporters in the United States have said exports from domestic shale gas basins could eat into Russia's share of the European market.
Europe relies heavy on natural gas from Russia, the bulk of which runs through Soviet-era pipelines in Ukraine. Russia has proposed its own options to diversify export options, though the European Commission has objected on anti-trust ground.