2015.09.08 13:45

Floating LNG terminal "Independence" sails into Klaipėda

DELFI EN | The Lithuania Tribune2015.09.08 13:45

The floating storage and regasification unit (FSRU), built for Lithuania’s liquefied natural gas (LNG) terminal, sailed into the port of Klaipėda on Monday morning.

The floating storage and regasification unit (FSRU), built for Lithuania’s liquefied natural gas (LNG) terminal, sailed into the port of Klaipėda on Monday morning.

The Korean-made vessel, aptly named "Independence", appeared near Klaipėda shortly after 8 AM local time.

The official welcoming ceremony in Lithuania's western Baltic port later on Monday will be attended by Lithuanian leaders, Estonian Prime Minister Taavi Roivas, Latvian Prime Minister Lamdota Straujuma as well as delegates from the US Senate, Norway, Finland, Sweden, the European Commission.

The floating LNG terminal will solve two key energy problems of the country, i.e. dependence on the imports of gas and electricity, Energy Minister Rokas Masiulis said on Monday.

The LNG facility would solve those problems since the country has large power plants generating electricity from gas, Rokas Masiulis said.

“With one vessel we can solve two major issues: gas and electricity,” he said at an energy conference in Klaipėda on Monday morning.

The FSRU means energy independence both for Lithuania and for Estonia and Latvia, the minister said.

“This energy independence can be shared. Since we are connected with Latvia and Estonia, we can share our energy and our neighbors can share benefits… Not only Lithuania gained energy independence but, partially, our neighbors, too,” Masiulis said.

Meanwhile, Amos J.Hochstein, Acting Special Envoy and Coordinator for International Energy Affairs leading the Bureau of Energy Resources at the US Department of State, warned that gas was not enough to solve all problems. He said, however, that now Lithuania would be part of the global gas market, which was an important milestone.

He noted that the Baltic countries needed an alternative. “The highest bidder gets the gas. But it’s about markets.”

The opening of the LNG facility was an important milestone in particular as Lithuania, Latvia and Estonia were an energy island several years ago, Hochstein said at the conference.

“That’s why we’ve been inspired by what Lithuania’s done,” he said.

Paying off even before launch

"I am very excited, the heart is beating harder, because so much work went into this," Minister Masiulis said before the terminal's arrival in Klaipėda.

According to him, energy consumers in Lithuania can feel the benefits even before the LNG terminal is launched, since Russia's gas behemoth Gazprom, until now Lithuania's only supplier, has cut gas prices for Lithuania 20 percent.

"This has made up for the costs of constructing the terminal four-fold," according to Masiulis, adding that if Gazprom had not cut the price, the surcharge would have been four times the LNG terminal's construction costs.

State-run company Klaipėdos Nafta (Klaipėda Oil) invested EUR 100m into the terminal, while Klaipėda Seaport Authority contributed about EUR 38m. The terminal's jetty, which cost EUR 35m, was constructed by Latvia's BMGS, while PPS Pipeline Systems is finishing a EUR 33m pipeline extension.

Lithuania has signed a five-year contract with Norway's Statoil to supply minimum LNG volumes - 0.54bn cubic metres per year - to ensure the terminal's smooth operation.

In its energy security strategy drafted last May, the European Commission says that Klaipėda's terminal is the only realistic solution to diversify the Baltic countries' gas supply in the short term.



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