The past seven years have witnessed significant changes in the Hungarian energy sector according to the 2016 edition of the Energy Authority’s annual report titled “Data on the Hungarian Natural Gas Network.”
Upon returning to power in 2010, the Fidesz-KDNP government announced its intention to increase Hungarian ownership of key sectors, including energy. The 2011 purchase of shares in state oil company MOL Group (with funds confiscated from private pension funds at the end of 2010) was followed with the purchase of a number of energy-trading companies, gas-storage facilities, pipelines and power plants. 100 percent of gas-storage facilities and 81.7 percent of household gas providers are now owned by the state or state-owned companies,
It was not merely the Hungarian state that went on an energy buying spree but certain individuals linked to Prime Minister Viktor Orbán, including György Nagy (of Big George’s fame) and István Garancsi (whose thumb is in many pies involving copious government spending) who partnered with Russian associates of Vladimir Putin to reap enormous profits by importing discounted Russian gas from Western Europe. Lőrinc Mészáros (pictured), Hungary’s fifth-richest person thanks to his uncanny knack for winning lucrative EU-funded government contracts, joined the pantheon of Fidesz energy magnates last month with his purchase of the Matria power plant and with that one-fifth of Hungary’s power generation capacity.
The Energy Authority has put out an annual report on the domestic gas market since 2013. According to the 2016 report 77 percent of energy distribution as well as 78 percent of natural gas suppliers continue to be owned by foreign companies.