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Saeima approves Energy Law amendments

Mar 13, 2014
From wire reports, RIGA

On March 13 Latvia’s Saeima approved in the final reading amendments to the Energy Law, which envisage gradually opening up the gas market by April 2017, reports LETA. Gas distribution monopolist Latvijas Gaze is to be unbundled by April 3, 2017 at the latest.

According to the amendments, the liberalization of the gas market will take place in several stages, and the process will begin on April 4 of this year.

According to the amendments, this may happen sooner if one of the following happens: the natural gas distribution system in Latvia is directly connected to that of any other European Union member state, except Estonia, Lithuania and Finland, or if the dominating supplier's share of the total natural gas supply market in Latvia is smaller than 75 percent.

However, the possibility of either is very small, as Latvijas Gaze and Economy Ministry representatives told the Saeima Economic, Agricultural, Environmental and Regional Policy Committee on Feb. 13.

Saeima supported in principle amendments to the Energy Law in the first reading on Dec. 12 last year, to ensure third party access to Latvia's natural gas supply system.

At the moment, there is one vertically-integrated company in Latvia - Latvijas Gaze - that buys, stores, transport, distributes and sells natural gas in Latvia. Latvia's natural gas supply system is not connected to any other European Union member state's system, except Lithuania and Estonia, and Russia remains the sole supplier of natural gas to Latvia.

The objective of the amendments, drafted by the Economy Ministry, is to transpose the Third Energy Package of the European Union into Latvian legislation to ensure liberalization of the natural gas market of Latvia, encourage alternative supplies and competition on the market.

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