PMs united on energy future

  • 2007-06-15
  • Adam Mullett

The three prime ministers came to a long awaited agreement

VILNIUS - A road map for the energy future of the Baltics,including the initiation of the common energy market, has been set up at a Vilnius meetingthat included all three Baltic prime ministers.


Also, after years of infighting betweenLithuania and Latvia over where the Swedlink cable will be grounded on theBaltic side, Lithuania has been confirmed as the country where it will land.


"It is clear that the landscape of energysituation in Baltic States will change dramatically after the closure ofIgnalina Nuclear Power Plant. From net exporters we will become net importers.Our region can even face the shortage of the electricity in wintertime. That'sway we must unite our efforts and find common solutions," Lithuanian PrimeMinister Andrius Kubilius said after the April 27 meeting.


Estonian Prime Minister Andrus Ansip said thecreation of the common market was the most important part of the plan.


"I don't want to say that this nuclear plantis just a detail, but it is," he said about Lithuania's new nuclear powerplant, which is still in the planning stage.

The Baltic prime ministers made the announcement in apress conference as they signed off on a joint declaration spelling out theregion's energy plans for the future.


The declaration includes the removal ofregulated tariffs on 35 percent of all energy sold in the three countries tofacilitate the opening of the market, the removal barriers stopping energysuppliers from selling their energy on the free market without losinggovernment support and the insurance that the energy suppliers are independent.


It also provisions the speed up ofEstlink-2 's the 635-megawatt undersea cablefrom Estonia to Finland 's and the plans to proceed on Swedlink.


Deputy head of Missionof the Swedish Embassy in Vilnius Eva Nilsson told TBT that Swedenwelcomes the news.


"We are happy that there is an agreement among the Balticcountries. Its most important that there is an agreement on the common market 'swe are welcoming this announcement from the prime ministers," she said.


Kubilius said that the decision to make a united marketwould benefit consumers.


"An open and transparent common Baltic electricitymarket based on the Nordpool model would allow us to increase reliability ofelectricity supply as well as to enhance competition. And this in turn would bethe impetus for energy companies to increase efficiency of their activitiesthus minimizing the costs. At the same time it would create the possibilitiesfor consumers to choose the supplier under the best conditions," he said.


Swedlink is now expected to be completedin 2016, said Mikael Odenberg,the Director General of Swedish power company SvenskaKraftnat. The Lithuanian Ministry of Energy confirmedthe estimate.


Ansip said the link will be a Balticsolution and that Sweden cannot be expected to take charge.


"The key issue in our region 's thisis a common electricity market. The Swedish taxpayers are not ready to build aconnector that would improve energy security in our region. They want to createa business: they want to be sure that you will be able to purchase electricityfrom our market and sell in our market. It is clear that the overall market isa crucial thing," Ansip said.


The Lithuanian minister of energy hasagain reiterated that the link is not to Lithuania, but to the united energygrid.


"This is a link between the Balticand Nordic markets 's it's not about the country, but about the cost and thetime. It's a good step to connection and joining to Nordic and Europeanmarkets," Energy Minister Arvydas Sekmokas told TBT.


The exact landing place of the cable has not yet beendecided, the minister said.




After recent confusion over whichcountries are interested, all three PMs restated their interest in theconstruction of new nuclear power plant in Lithuania, but said that it has beenproceeding too slowly.


"We are also not satisfied with theproject progress until this year, therefore, have taken initiative toaccelerate. To set up the energy ministry and approve the action plan,"Kubilius said.


"The government sees that it isnecessary to build a new nuclear power plant not only in Lithuania, but alsothe entire region. This is our strategic approach," Kubilius said.


Ansip highlighted that his country stillwants to participate in the construction of a new power plant in Lithuania, butis not satisfied with the project.


"We expected more, but now we haveonly the environmental impact assessment. We expected more. We need speed. Wein Estonia are already in a huge hurry. We want to move. We are stillinterested, but really hope that the development speed will be higher than theprevious year," Ansip said.