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2020.01.22 09:15

Lithuania ready to increase Belarusian transit volumes via Klaipėda port, PM says

BNS2020.01.22 09:15

Lithuania is ready to increase transit volumes of Belarusian goods via its Klaipėda Seaport, Prime Minister Saulius Skvernelis said on Tuesday after discussing bilateral relations and economic cooperation with incoming Belarusian Ambassador to Lithuania Valery Baranovsky.

“Lithuania is ready to continue cooperating with Belarus on the transit of goods via Lithuania's territory and Klaipėda Seaport, and to increase its volumes if possible,” according to a statement released by the Lithuanian government's press service.

According to the prime minister, Lithuania welcomes active economic ties with Belarus and also a growing number of Belarusian citizens coming to Lithuania for shopping and as tourists.

The meeting also touched upon the Astravyets nuclear power plant under construction in Belarus, the Lithuanian government said.

Lithuania maintains that the Belarusian nuclear facility is being construction unsafely and in violation of international commitments, accusations that Minsk rejects.

Read more: Lithuania fears Belarus hasn't ‘learned lessons of Chernobyl’

Belarus announced in December that nuclear fuel for the Astravyets nuclear power plant's first reactor would be delivered in the first quarter of this year and they expect to launch the reactor as early as this year.

As a dispute between Belarus and Russia regarding oil supply conditions continues, Lithuania has offered Minsk to import oil and gas via its infrastructure.

A crude oil shipment from Norway for Belarus is expected to arrive in the port of Klaipėda on Wednesday, with Vilnius government officials saying that Lithuania could in the future help Belarus import gas, too, if Minsk wanted to reduce its dependence on Moscow.

Read more: Belarus to import first oil shipment via Lithuania amid row with Moscow

Belarus exports a substantial share of its products via Klaipėda, and they are transported in Lithuania by the state-owned railway company Lietuvos Geležinkeliai (Lithuanian Railways).

Belaruskali, the only Belarusian potassium fertilizer producer, exports via Klaipėda, and its products are handled by Birių Krovinių Terminalas (BKT). The latter handled some 10 million tons of cargo last year, with Belaruskali products accounting for 98 percent of it.

Owned by businessman Igor Udovickij and Belaruskali, BKT wants to expand and build storage facilities at the Nemunas terminal, necessary to receive Belaruskali fertilizers. According to Udovickij, it would allow increasing capacity from around 12 million to 16 million tons a year.

Meanwhile, Lithuanian oil handling company Klaipėdos Nafta (Klaipėda Oil) works with BNK (UK) Limited, part of Belarus' largest oil product exporter Belaruskaya Neftenaya Kampaniya, which handled light and heavy oil products produced in Belarus.

Read more: Chinese money connects Lithuania to Belarus' nuclear plant – LRT Investigation