Report: informal deal may give boost to bilateral energy cooperation

  • 2006-06-07
  • From wire reports
VILNIUS - A leading daily reported last week that Polish authorities dragged their feet on a crucial bilateral energy deal with Lithuania until the Baltic state decided to give its blessing to the Mazeikiu Nafta sale to PKN Orlen, a Polish corporation. According to the report, outgoing Prime Minister Algirdas Brazauskas agreed to open the refinery's doors to the Polish company after Warsaw indicated it would stop blocking plans for construction of a high-voltage connection between the two countries' power grids.

The connection, once completed, will give Lithuania access to the wider European grid and is one of the country's top priority projects.
Lietuvos Rytas quoted Jonas Kazlauskas, deputy director of the Lithuanian Energy Agency, as saying that last week the Polish authorities were expected to change their energy sector development priorities and place the joint power link project with Lithuania at the top of the list.

Kazlauskas said he did not know if the Poles "changed" their position due to Lithuania's approval of the Mazeikiu Nafta sale to PKN Orlen or whether Vilnius threatened to direct the EU money allocated for the project toward a power link to Sweden.
The Polish government approved an electricity sector program in March, placing the 1 billion litas (300 million euro) power connection project at the bottom of its priority list.

As Rymantas Juozaitis, CEO of the state-run power transmission firm Lietuvos Energija (Lithuanian Energy), said, "If Poland wants the power line with Lithuania to be built, things will move forward. If not, nothing is likely to change."
Noting that the acquisition of Mazeikiu Nafta was an important project for Poland, Juozaitis did not rule out the possibility that the neighboring country might take a political decision on the power link