Lithuania takes steps to control power links with Belarus

  • 2021-06-03
  • BNS/TBT Staff

VILNIUS – Lithuania is launching a legal process to take over control of power interconnections with Belarus as Unit One at the Astravyets nuclear power plant is starting commercial operation, Lithuania's power transmission system operator Litgrid said on Thursday. 

Litgrid has informed the TSOs of Belarus and other BRELL countries, Russia, Latvia and Estonia, about the legal action. 

However, neither Litgrid nor Energy Minister Dainius Kreivys would say what specific steps are being taken.

Since the Belarusian nuclear safety regulator's decision to issue the license for the Astravyets plant's commercial operation has a direct impact on the implementation of the BRELL agreement, Lithuania is taking action to use legal levers to bar market access for its electricity, as required by the so-called anti-Astravyets law, according to Litgrid CEO Rokas Masiulis.    

"Today, we have informed the parties to the agreement that we have taken legal action to take over control of physical capacity of all interconnections with Belarus," he said in a press release. 

Based on the law, Litgrid halted electricity imports from Belarus by setting the capacity for commercial power flows from the country to zero once the Astravyets plant launched trial operation on November 3, 2020.

There has been no commercial exchange of electricity between Belarus and Lithuania since, but Litgrid says that some Belarusian power enters Lithuania via Latvia which imports it as Russian electricity. 

Based on the law, Litgrid has also stopped providing its emergency power reserve service to Belarus. 

Data from the power transmission system operator show that 16 million euros’ worth of Astravyets electricity was purchased in Lithuania between January 1 and May 24, 2021. The bulk of that amount came in before March 24, when Belarusian power exports were still in full swing, according to Kreivys.  

The energy minister has said that the Baltic trilateral methodology for trade in electricity with Russia, unilaterally approved by Tallinn and Riga, not only fails to bar market access for power from the Astravyets plant, but is also pushing up electricity prices in Lithuania.