VILNIUS - Lithuania proposes a new, slightly amended trilateral methodology for power trade with Russia to its Baltic neighbors and expects to agree with them by late June on a blockade of electricity from Belarus' Astravyets nuclear power plant, Energy Minister Dainius Kreivys said on Tuesday.
However, Vilnius is considering a plan B if no deal with Latvia and Estonia is reached, he added.
"Today, we presented a new possible methodology and its main principles (...). Its main principle is that electricity that will be traded in the Baltic markets can only come through the Latvian and Estonian physical cross-sections and lines (...). The physical flow coming across the Lithuanian border is not traded," Kreivys told a news conference.
"We have already asked the (European) Commission today to convene as soon as possible a trilateral BEMIP meeting of the Baltics and the Commission, where we will introduce and discuss our new methodology," he said.
If Lithuania fails to reach a deal with Latvia and Estonia, an alternative plan is envisaged, but not yet approved, according to the minister.
"In that case, Lithuania reserves the right to apply the legal and technical measures provided for in option B so as to implement the 'anti-Astravyets' law," he said.
Earlier on Tuesday, the principles of the new trilateral methodology were endorsed by the Electricity System Synchronization Commission headed by Prime Minister Ingrida Simonyte.
The president-headed State Defense Council is expected to discuss them next week, according to Kreivys.
The minister said he is planning to discuss the Astravyets blockade issue with Ukrainian, Polish and Latvian government officials shortly.
Kreivys does not agree with Riga's argument that Latvia's electricity imports from Russia surged in January because of a cold snap
"Latvia doesn't comment on whether the electricity originated in Belarus or somewhere else. It only says that the significant increase, almost threefold, (in imports) could be due to the cold weather," the minister said.
"However, (...) all flows then basically increased with the start-up of the Astravyets nuclear power plant and the increasing of its capacity to full," he noted.
Citing data from the power transmission system operator Litgrid, Kreivys said earlier that Lithuania had already paid almost 4 million euros for the Astravyets electricity and that the annual amount would reach 120 million euros if trade between Russia and Latvia continued at these levels.
Vilnius says the methodology that was drafted by the three Baltic countries last year and unilaterally approved by Latvia and Estonia fails to bar market access for Belarusian electricity.
Therefore, Lithuania refused to endorse it and proposes a new methodology that it says is acceptable to all three countries.