2020.09.01 17:58

Baltic states sign deal to block Belarusian nuclear imports

BNS2020.09.01 17:58

The Baltic states have ironed out technical aspects of boycotting Belarusian nuclear electricity, moving closer to a total ban of Belarusian electricity sought by Lithuania.

On Monday, the Estonian, Latvian and Lithuanian energy ministries reached an agreement on regulating power trade with non-EU countries.

Under the agreement, power trade with Belarus will cease after the Astravyets plant is launched. For that to work, a system of electricity origin certificates will be introduced.

Read more: Belarus to lose ‘hundreds of millions’ in revenues due to Baltic boycott of nuclear energy

Some of the electricity trade will be redirected to the Russian–Latvian connection. Power trade between Russia's Baltic exclave of Kaliningrad and Lithuania will continue in its current volume.

“The Baltic states have the same political position" to boycott electricity imports from the Astravyets nuclear plant, Lithuania's Energy Ministry told BNS on Tuesday.

Lithuania has outlawed electricity imports from Belarus once it launches the nuclear plant, which is set to begin operating later this year. Lithuanian authorities say the plant is unsafe. In order for the boycott to be effective, Vilnius has been seeking to have Latvia and Estonia join it.

The new methodology for calculating each country's capacity for trade will be submitted to the energy market regulators at the end of this week, according to BNS in Estonia.

Inga Žiliene, the head of Lithuania's National Commission for Energy Control and Prices, said a regulatory methodology could be approved fairly swiftly.

Last week, Latvia announced its decision to stop buying electricity from Belarus once the Astravyets NPP is launched. Lithuania welcomed Riga's decision, saying it represented progress in negotiations and Baltic solidarity in energy policy.

Read more: Latvia backs Lithuania in nuclear dispute with Belarus after months of negotiations

Following Riga's statement, Lithuanian Prime Minister Saulius Skvernelis said the Baltic states were getting closer to signing a political declaration.

Lithuanian Energy Minister Žygimantas Vaičiūnas has told BNS that the three countries will now have to agree on the final wording of the declaration and approve the tripartite methodology.

Lithuania is the biggest critic of the Astravyets plant, situated close to its border and about 50 kilometres from Vilnius. The country argues that the facility fails to comply with international safety requirements. Minsk rejects the criticism.

Read more: 10 questions about Belarusian nuclear plant. What would happen to Lithuania in case of accident?