Lithuanian PM signs letter to Belarusian counterpart on Astravyets NPP's gas conversion

  • 2019-03-07
  • BNS/TBT Staff

VILNIUS - Lithuanian Prime Minister Saulius Skvernelis on Thursday signed a letter to his Belarusian counterpart Sergey Rumas, containing his proposal to convert its almost-complete Astravyets nuclear power plant into a natural gas-fueled combined heat and power plant which could be supplied with gas via the LNG terminal in Lithuania's western port of Klaipeda and a planned Lithuanian-Polish gas link.

"The prime minister has signed a letter to the Belarusian prime minister, offering to consider alternatives to the Belarusian nuclear power plant," Government Chancellor Deividas Matulionis told BNS Lithuania.

In his words, the letter pays attention to the LNG terminal in Klaipeda and the planned Lithuanian-Polish gas link which is scheduled to come online in several years.

"If there's interest, we could ensure gas supplies to a modern gas power plant and we could supply gas via Lithuania from other countries or via the LNG terminal," Matulionis said.

Lithuania has been criticizing the Aastravyets nuclear facility, being constructed by Russia's Rosatom some 20 km from the Lithuanian border, for many years. Its first reactor is due to come online later this year, with the second reactor's launch scheduled for 2020.

The Lithuanian prime minister voiced his surprise plan on the power plant conversion last week and provided some more detail on Monday. According to the government statement, if Belarus abandoned the Astravyets project, more than 60 percent of its infrastructure could be used for a gas-fueled facility.

Critics, however, say the prime minister's proposed plan is unrealistic neither technically, nor politically, and link it to Skvernelis' upcoming participation in the presidential election.

Up until now, Lithuania has sought to block the Belarusian project at the EU level but has so far failed to secure support from EU institutions, and other countries.