RIGA - We will not be able to build a liquefied natural gas (LNG) terminal in Skulte by 2024 unless the environmental impact assessment (EIA) procedure is simplified, Skulte LNG Terminal CEO Renars Mikelsons told members of the Saeima Economic, Agricultural, Environmental and Regional Policy Committee on Thursday.
He said that currently the EIA procedure contains extremely detailed requirements, such as large-scale modelling of technical risks with domino effects. Going through these procedures would be a very time-consuming process which would take at least a year. This, in turn, would delay designing work, Mikelsons said.
The Skulte LNG Terminal CEO told lawmakers that a European Union (EU) directive provides an option not to apply the full EIA procedure to floating terminals. Mikelsons said that the project's environmental impact has to be assessed, but called for a simplified and shorter procedure.
Answering questions from MP Janis Vitenbergs (National Alliance), the Economics Ministry's representative Kaspars Lore said that the bill on Skulte LNG Terminal does not provide for granting the project any state aid.
Dace Bekolde, a representative of the Finance Ministry, indicated that the Economics Ministry should assess whether granting the terminal's developer an exemption from the competition procedure might be regarded as state aid.
Marta Timrota, a representative of the Association for the Protection of Coastal Environment, voiced concerns about the developer's promise to build the LNG terminal for just EUR 120 million, while Lithuania has already invested EUR 500 million in its LNG terminal.
"Although these figures obviously do not reflect the real situation, it is clear that they will be saving on everything, including safety and environmental protection," Timrota warned.
She added that any regasification equipment mentioned by the terminal's developers will have a serious impact on the biodiversity of the sea, especially because the Baltic Sea is a shallow sea, which makes its environment particularly vulnerable.
"The leaks from the Nord Stream gas pipeline are already highlighting a number of safety and environmental aspects that have to be evaluated before building such an explosive structure. The EIA procedure must not be eased for Skulte LNG Terminal," Timrota said.
The Saeima Economic, Agricultural, Environmental and Regional Policy Committee today endorsed the bill on Skulte LNG Terminal.