Lithuania Energy Freedom Is 2 Years Away, President Says

Lithuania must intensify efforts to diversify its gas and power supplies so the Baltic nation can shed the “shackles” of energy dependence on Russia by 2015, President Dalia Grybauskaite said.

“We’ve already initiated historic changes,” Grybauskaite said today in her annual state-of-the-nation speech to parliament in Vilnius, the capital. “We have to hold out for at least two more years, then we’ll be able to breathe easier.”

Since agreeing to shut a Soviet-built nuclear plant as a condition for joining the European Union in 2004, Lithuania has relied on Russia’s OAO Gazprom for natural-gas imports and on OAO Inter RAO UES for much of its electricity. Now the country plans by 2015 to complete power lines linking it to Poland and Sweden and a liquefied natural-gas terminal on the Baltic Sea.

The president criticized Prime Minister Algirdas Butkevicius’s government, which took office in December, for being too slow so far making decisions on issues including whether to build a new nuclear plant and grant shale-gas exploration rights to the U.S. energy company, Chevron Corp.

“While we bicker indecisively drafting a national energy strategy, our seventh, decisions are being made for us” by outside people and events, Grybauskaite said. “It’s time to get to work.”