(dpa) - Hungarian energy firm MOL on Wednesday said it hoped a joint venture with ExxonMobil and the UK's Falcon Oil and Gas could lead to gas being produced in Hungary by 2014 at the latest.
MOL on Monday said it had signed an agreement with ExxonMobil to jointly explore 1,560 kilometres of the Mako trough in South-East Hungary.
The company also said it had bought into another concession in the same region, making it joint partners with ExxonMobil and Falcon Oil and Gas.
Exploratory drilling is expected to commence this year.
A 2006 study by the Dallas-based Scotia Group, commissioned by Falcon, said there was a 90-per-cent chance that the Mako trough could contain 18 trillion cubic feet of recoverable gas.
Hungary is currently reliant on Russian gas for about 80 per cent of its needs and is attempting to diversify its supply.
However, it caused a controversy recently when it signed up to the Russian South Stream gas pipeline, which is seen as a rival to the EU-backed Nabucco.
While Hungary has also said it supports Nabucco, which aims to reduce Europe's reliance on Russian gas, many analysts said its decision to sign up to South Stream was a blow to the EU-backed pipeline.