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Connection of the energy network with that of the European Union is expected by 2008 at the latest through carrying out the Baltic Circle project, a foreign ministry spokesman said Nov. 26.
The Baltic Circle will unite the energy grids of all countries around the Baltic Sea, whereby the grids of Estonia and Finland will be linked by an underwater cable. Another cable will run between Lithuania and Poland.
Opening the market to competition is to occur in several steps, with the first stage involving the creation of a joint Baltic market planned for 2002.
For Estonia, it is important to gain access to the European natural gas distribution network. This is to be achieved through the Northern Gas project planning a gas pipeline between Tallinn and Helsinki.
Estonia has started negotiations on both the Baltic Circle and the Northern Gas projects under the EU's Northern Dimension project. The country expects to receive support from the European Union for both projects.
In implementation of the energy chapter, Estonia seeks a transition period until 2010 for establishing a compulsory 90 days' reserve of liquid fuel because the country lacks money for building the necessary tanks and buying the oil.
Estonia began talks on the energy chapter during its accession negotiations with the European Union three weeks ago. Estonia has set itself the goal to be ready for EU membership by 2003.