VILNIUS - Sweden's government has expressed support for an undersea power-link that would connect Lithuania's electricity grid with the Scandinavian country.
The project 's dubbed Swedlit 's has stagnated in recent months but received new life after visits to the country by Prime Minister Gediminas Kirkilas and President Valdas Adamkus.
Kirkilas told journalists in Vilnius that the Swedish government had yet to present the project to Parliament, which must first give its approval.
"During a meeting with the prime minister [Frederik Reinfeldt], I asked for this to be done as soon as possible, because there is a sort of a bureaucracy there as well," he said.
"I guess arranging the seaside areas where the cable should pass 's perhaps the envisioned windmills on Lithuania's side 's will take the longest," Kirkilas mused.
Still, he remained optimistic.
"The most important result is that Sweden showed considerable interest in having such a link, and discussions are currently taking place about the entire Baltic Sea region's strategy, one of the main domains of which is to join the entire region with as many infrastructure and energy links as possible," he said.
The 550 million euro project calls for a 350 kilometer cable to be laid under the Baltic Sea. The cable will have a 700 - 1,000 megawatt capacity yet it is unlikely to be ready for operation earlier than 2015. This is three years later than set out in Lithuania's energy strategy.
A detailed feasibility and technical study commissioned by Lietuvos Energija and Svenska Kraftnat is scheduled to be completed in February.
A preliminary study carried out last year by Sweco International, a consulting firm, found that the project would be commercially viable even without financial support from the European Union.
"In the nearest future, between the months of February and May, we can start proceedings, but at this time we are discussing whether we should create a common firm, or there could be two companies working on construction," Kirkilas explained.
The Swedlit link is tied with Lithuania's new nuclear power plant, which is also behind schedule though gathering momentum. Originally the government had set a 2015 deadline, though this looks increasingly unreal given long lead-times for building nuclear power facilities, particularly in the current market when the number of new orders has risen sharply.