The Hungarian Association of Hydrocarbon Stockpiling says that E.ON’s local arm and the Hungarian upstream specialist MOL will be asked to submit detailed technical proposals for the scheme, the Budapest Business Journal reports.

A winner will be announced towards the end of 2006, the report adds. Hungary is one of the largest gas consumption markets in Europe but remains particularly dependent upon Russian imports for its supplies. The country’s government wants to diversify its supply base, and protect itself from unforeseen interruptions of imports, such as those seen at the turn of the year when Hungary suffered the fallout from Gazprom’s decision to cut supplies to Ukraine.

The Hungarians are also keen to invest in the planned Nabucco pipeline that will take gas from the Caspian region through central Europe to Austria and points west, which is slated to open in 2008.