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Hungary's MOL warns of oil shortages unless fuel imports rise

·1-min read
FILE PHOTO: A general view of Hungarian MOL Group's Danube Refinery in Szazhalombatta

BUDAPEST (Reuters) - Hungarian energy company MOL warned of possible fuel supply problems unless there are measures to help imports, state news agency MTI reported on Friday, citing Zsolt Hernadi, MOL's executive chairman.

Hernadi spoke after meeting two government ministers and just before a government press conference scheduled for Saturday. The topic of the briefing has not yet been announced.

If Hungary's fuel price cap remains in place in its current form, there will be no imported fuel arriving in Hungary, Hernadi said.

The limit on prices was introduced last November and set the retail price for both 95-octane gasoline and diesel at 480 forints ($1.21) a litre.

Prime Minister Viktor Orban's government introduced the cap, now set to run until October, to shield consumers from inflation now at its highest level in two decades.

Hernadi said the question of imports was important because MOL's Danube refinery was unable to produce enough diesel to fulfil demand in the country even under normal circumstances, and it will be shut down for a scheduled maintenance on Monday.

"This step cannot be delayed any further," he said.

This will be one of the largest scale maintenance projects of the Danube refinery in its history and MOL will do its best to make up the loss in output, the company's managing director Peter Ratatics said in an interview on Wednesday.

MOL, which owns the largest network of service stations in the country, has previously called for the fuel price cap to be phased out.

Last month, MOL announced passenger car drivers in Hungary would be limited to buying 50 litres of fuel a day at fuel stations, halving the previous limit.

($1 = 396.0500 forints)

(Reporting by Anita Komuves, Editing by Louise Heavens)

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