RIGA - The Economics Ministry does not rule out replacing Latvijas Gaze natural gas utility with Latvenergo energy company as the supplier of natural gas to households if the situation gets critical, the ministry's parliamentary secretary Ilze Indriksone (National Alliance) told the Saeima Public Expenditure and Audit Committee on Tuesday.
She said that recent events have shifted the focus on short-term solutions and security aspects on which the Economics Ministry is now working.
At the government's instructions, Latvenergo has already purchased two shiploads of liquefied natural gas (LNG) in order to provide the necessary amount of gas to Riga's heating systems in case gas deliveries from Russia ceased. The Economics Ministry is considering buying one more shipload of LNG.
"We are considering the purchase of one more shipload of gas to make sure Latvenergo can replace Latvijas Gaze as the gas supplier to households in a critical situation. We could then solve the problem easily but definitely not cheaply," Indriksone told lawmakers.
The parliamentary secretary indicated that for the time being there are no indications that Russia might cut gas supplies. "They [Russia] are currently financing their war with gas supplies, which actually is not right," Indriksone said, adding that Latvia is not the only country buying Russian gas and that Finland, for instance, has no alternatives to Russian gas imports.
As reported, the government at an extraordinary meeting on February 24 tasked Latvenergo energy company with purchasing additional strategic gas reserves. Prime Minister Krisjanis Karins (New Unity) indicated that Latvia already has sufficient gas supplies at its underground gas storage facility in Incukalns but that the government has tasked to increase this reserve to make sure Latvia is fully supplied with natural gas.
Latvenergo has already purchased around two terawatt hours (TWh) of gas from Norway, US and Qatar. Under the purchase agreements, LNG will be delivered to an LNG terminal in Klaipeda, Lithuania, and injected in the Incukalns underground storage facility in April and May.
The gasification capacity of the Klaipeda LNG terminal is 40 TWh per season. Lithuania consumes 20 TWh, Latvia 10 TWh and Estonia 5 TWh of gas per season.