VILNIUS - The Lithuanian Energy Minister, Arvydas Sekmokas, has said that diversification of the gas market in Lithuania will eliminate the need for ties to the Russian energy sector by 2020, reports news agency UPI. Poland and Lithuania are exploring ways to break the Russian grip on the energy sector by expanding their relationship with Western Europe and exploring alternative energy supply routes.
Ministers from Lithuania, Latvia, Estonia and Poland met in May with European energy officials to discuss integrating the Baltic electricity sector to the European energy market. Plans were also discussed for the development of a nuclear power plant in Lithuania, the Energy Ministry noted.
Speaking during an international energy conference in Vilnius on Aug. 26, he said that Lithuanian energy market operator Baltpool had already made proposals to the gas company Lietuvos Dujos, in which Russian energy giant Gazprom owns a 37-percent stake.
Sekmokas said integration with Poland would make it possible to eliminate the need for ties to Gazprom by 2020. If Lithuania had a diversified energy market, it would speed up the integration of Lithuania’s and Poland’s gas transportation networks, says Sekmokas.
Polish gas company Gaz System and Lithuania’s Lietuvos Dujos signed a memorandum of understanding recently to build the so-called Amber pipeline with the help of funds from the European Union. Poland said the 300-mile (480 kilometer) pipeline could go online by 2015, carrying around 175 billion cubic feet each year between both Baltic sea nations.
Gazprom abandoned the Amber pipeline in favor of its Nord Stream gas pipeline under the Baltic Sea, connecting with Germany.
Jurgis Vilemas from Lithuania’s Laboratory for Complex Energy Research said the integration of the two countries’ pipelines was very important for Lithuania as Poland was due to begin to supply gas to some European states within the next 10 years. In April, large shale gas reserves were discovered in Poland. U.S. energy company ConocoPhillips is expected to begin exploration of the reserves next May.