RIGA - The government is ready to remove administrative obstacles to construction of a liquefied natural gas (LNG) terminal in Latvia and to make it a project of national importance, but the terminal's developers will not be allowed to push ahead with their project ignoring the interests of other people, including local residents, Economics Minister Ilze Indriksone (National Alliance) told LETA.
The minister said that a technical specification is currently being drafted for an expert assessment of the two announced LNG terminal projects.
The minister indicated that such an assessment is essential as it has to include an analysis of all possible risks.
"We on our part are ready to remove all administrative obstacles, but building something against the will of local residents will not be possible. We therefore cannot promise that all other interests will be ignored. Security risks and the protection of nature will also be taken into consideration," Indriksone said.
In her words, the government would favor a project that would not require any state guarantees or other financial involvement of the government. However, the state might help the investors to construct the gas pipe connection.
"The question is, to what extent and how much it will cost. Besides, the investors can provide all connections faster, because as soon as the state gets involved, the process becomes much longer. To us, there are two important aspects - speed and safety," the economics minister said.
Asked whether the work on the LNG terminal project means that the situation with gas supply will remain tense not only during the upcoming winter but also the following winter, Indriksone said that the developers hope to be market players the following winter.
"But in that case they should actively go ahead with developing their projects parallel to the assessment. If the investors are prepared to invest regardless of state support, they have to move ahead quickly," Indriksone said, adding that nobody has forbidden the investors from developing their projects.
The minister also expressed hope that the LNG terminal in Paldiski, Estonia, or in Finland will be put into operation already this fall.
As reported, the government on April 19 agreed in principle to give up Russian natural gas imports and to build a liquefied natural gas (LNG) terminal in Latvia. May 31, the Economics Ministry is expected to present an assessment of the terminal's potential location, benefits and costs.
Indriksone said at the beginning of June that Latvia's liquefied gas (LNG) terminal might be developed by JSC Skulte LNG Terminal or LLC Kundzinsalas Dienvidu Projekts.
While Skulte LNG Terminal wants to build the terminal in Saulkrasti, Kundzinsalas Dienvidu Projekts proposes developing the project in Riga.
The Economics Ministry has until August 31 to submit to the government a compliance report on these two projects. With help from independent experts, the ministry will assess the project's compliance with Latvia's economic and national interests.
The ministry will outsource the independent experts from a company without holding a tender due to the urgency of the matter.
Skulte LNG Terminal was registered in 2016, and has a share capital of 42,000. According to information on the company's website, Skulte LNG Terminal belongs to Arnfinn Unum and Peteris Ragauss.
Kundzinsalas Dienvidu Projekts, registered in 2010, has a share capital of EUR 4,268. Kundzinsalas Dienvidu Projekts belongs to US company Millennium Energy Partners LLC, and its beneficial owner is Lasha Shanidze.