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Estonia, Latvia Premiers ‘Committed’ to Baltic Nuclear Plant

Estonian Prime Minister Andrus Ansip and Valdis Dombrovskis, his Latvian counterpart, said they’re “committed” to a nuclear power project in Lithuania.

Estonia needs to diversify its energy sources, as dependence on electricity generation from shale-oil may become costly because of carbon emissions, Ansip said in a joint press conference with Dombrovskis and Lithuanian Prime Minister Andrius Kubilius in Vilnius today.

The Baltic region is seeking to cut its dependence on energy imports from Russia by constructing a 1,300-megawatt reactor in Visaginas, 150 kilometers (93 miles) northeast of Vilnius. The Lithuanian government had intended to sign an agreement with Japan’s Hitachi Ltd. to proceed with engineering and preparation work; that was postponed when the country’s legislature decided in July to hold a referendum on the matter.

Lithuania plans to hold a preliminary stake of 38 percent in the Visaginas facility, which would cost as much as $6.5 billion, according to initial estimates. Estonia may own 22 percent, while Latvia and Hitachi would each hold 20 percent.

The decision on whether to go ahead with the atomic plant “is up to the Lithuanian people,” both Ansip and Dombrovskis said. The referendum is scheduled for Oct. 14, along with a general election.

“I will be disappointed if the answer is ‘No’,” Ansip said.

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