Lithuania’s energy minister called for faster work on new energy links between the Baltic countries and the rest of the European Union, as tensions in Ukraine boost concern about dependence on Russian supplies.
“The situation in Ukraine has us all worried,” Jaroslav Neverovic said today in a statement e-mailed by his office in Vilnius, the Lithuanian capital. “We have to take measures to ensure security of supply, first of all by speeding up the building of links among ourselves.”
Lithuania, Latvia and Estonia want to reduce current reliance on Russia’s Gazprom OAO (GAZP) for all their natural gas and on a Baltic unit of Inter Rao Ues OAO for some electricity imports. They say depending on Russian energy exposes them to economic and political pressures such as those Russian President Vladimir Putin’s government has put on Ukraine, and fear Ukraine’s conflict with Russia may disrupt some Russian gas exports via Ukrainian territory.
Power lines linking Lithuania to the Polish and Swedish electricity grids, due for completion next year, and a proposed gas pipeline to Poland that’s still being studied, are among EU-backed projects Neverovic is keen to speed up.
Lithuanian Prime Minister Algirdas Butkevicius today visited the site of a new liquefied natural gas terminal at the Baltic Sea port of Klaipeda to encourage faster work on the project, his office in Vilnius said in a statement. It’s due to begin operations by year-end after the country financed the project on its own to avoid slower EU processes.
The governments of Estonia and Finland on March 1 signed preliminary agreements on building their own LNG terminals and connecting gas pipelines between the countries.
EU energy ministers meeting in Brussels today saw no need for new measures in reaction to developments in Ukraine.
“At this moment, there’s no reason for concern” about security of gas supply as regards the “critical situation in Ukraine,” Energy Commissioner Guenther Oettinger told reporters. He said the EU has adequate natural-gas reserves and hasn’t received any signals yet about looming disruptions.
Neverovic urged the EU to also do more to help Ukraine develop projects to diversify its own energy supply away from Russia, according to his office.
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