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2020.02.05 09:43

Lithuania could take 'legal measures' to restrict Russian gas imports

updated

A small amount of Russian gas doesn't pose a threat to the country's energy independence, according to the Lithuanian energy minister, after a report by Lithuanian intelligence bodies said Russian supplies pose a risk to national security.

Lithuanian intelligence bodies published the yearly National Threat Assessment report on Tuesday:
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"Yes, it’s a risk factor but since infrastructure is managed by Lithuania [..] there's no critical impact on our security," Lithuanian Energy Minister Zygimantas Vaiciunas told BNS on Tuesday.

In the annual National Threat Assessment, published on Tuesday, Lithuania's State Security Department and military intelligence warned that Russia's privately-owned gas producer Novatek, which supplies LNG via Klaipėda, is closely linked to the Kremlin and its ultimate goal is to gain a dominant position in the Baltic market.

Read more: Russia and China seek foothold in Lithuania via gas and tech – report

"If Novatek's gas share in the Lithuanian economy rises, then we should probably take additional legal measures" to resitrict the imports, Vaičiūas said.

Darius Jauniskis, the VSD director, said Novatek can start dictating conditions for consumers after they get "hooked on" its supplies.

The LNG terminal allows ensuring the choice of suppliers and competitive prices, said Vaičiūnas. Russia used to have "a monopoly" in Lithuania, but "now we have a completely different situation," he added.

"It means that if we consider the ratio between both Gazprom and Novatek and Western gas, the share of Russian gas in Lithuania's economy is shrinking, Vaičiūnas told BNS. "Competition is good as it allows [Lithuania] to buy Western gas at a competitive price."

Lithuanian gas network operator Amber Grid told BNS that Gazprom made up 35 percent of the country's total gas imports last year, and 13 percent of impoted gas via the Klaipėda LNG terminal came from Novatek.

The Jonava-based fertiliser producer Achema is the only buyer of Novatek gas in Lithuania, and it is also a consumer of Gazprom gas. Achema usually refrains from comments on its suppliers and gas contracts.

Lithuanian PM: Novatek poses no threat to energy independence

Russian gas imports via Klaipėda too low to threaten Lithuania's energy independence, Prime Minister Saulius Skvernelis said on Wednesday, adding that it gelped reduce the overall gas prices.

"I'd see a threat if we were approaching a critical level where we would speak about market monopolisation, a situation we faced with Gazprom," Skvernelis told reporters.

"This is absolutely not the case now. Quantities are not large. Moreover, the appearance of [Novatek] led to price cuts by other suppliers," the prime minister said.

"The risks have been identified and are known. It is the job of the Security Department to name them. Our goal is to manage those risks. They are under control," he added.