Don’t complain to us

  • 2010-10-06
  • From wire reports

VILNIUS -  Energy companies Gazprom and E.ON AG, majority shareholders of Lithuania’s gas utility Lietuvos Dujos, should complain to Brussels, to the European Commission, about the nation’s unbundling plans, said Premier Andrius Kubilius, reports news agency ELTA. The Lithuanian government decided on May 19 to split the gas sales and transmission ownership of Lietuvos Dujos, spurring criticism from Gazprom and E.ON.

The initiative is part of the European Union’s drive to force dominant energy companies to give competitors access to transmission networks, according to the government. Gazprom and E.ON said on Sept. 20 in an open letter that “an overly hasty implementation of ownership unbundling” in Lithuania could “cause disruption of gas supplies.” These are “nervous statements” and they aren’t “a big surprise,” Kubilius said an interview in Copenhagen on Sept. 29.
“We can understand that Gazprom is a little bit worried about unbundling development in European gas markets,” Kubilius said. “But we see that Estonia decided to follow. The Poles are also going with something similar. If somebody is unhappy in how we implement European directives, they should complain to Brussels.”

Without competition, Lithuania risks staying in the position where it has to pay $100 more than Germany for 1,000 cubic meters of Russian natural gas, Kubilius said. “It’s really a big issue for us to get rid of our dependence on the monopoly supply of gas,” he said. “It’s not politics, it’s economics. We need to get rid of that dominating monopoly situation.”
EU lawmakers in April 2009 approved legislation forcing members to choose one of three options to ease access to power and gas grids. The choices are to force the companies to sell or spin off the transmission businesses, to require them to hand grid management over to an independent operator or oblige them to make the unit more independent through internal action.

Estonian Prime Minister Andrus Ansip on July 29 said that gas ownership unbundling for Estonia is “certainly as important as for Lithuania.” The country has started a discussion, though hasn’t decided how the unbundling will be carried out, he said.