Claim against Gazprom withdrawn

  • 2011-03-30
  • From wire reports

VILNIUS - Lithuania has withdrawn its claim against Gazprom on allegedly unfair activities by the management of Lietuvos Dujos, which is partly run by the Russian concern, reports AFP. “We actually received comments about the claim asking to clarify the action, and we are withdrawing it. We will reconsider the claim to decide whether to file the action again. I think that the issue raised in the action is important and we will come back to that,” Energy Minister Arvydas Sekmokas said after a Cabinet meeting on March 28.

The energy minister confirmed that the representatives of the Energy Ministry met with a delegation from the Russian gas monopoly Gazprom on Friday. According to him, the meeting focused on the implementation of the 3rd Energy Package and gas prices. “It was agreed to continue the dialogue and I think we will solve that issue,” Sekmokas said.
The minister said that Gazprom did not promise to reduce gas prices, but the company’s wish to continue talks alone pointed to improvement in the situation. Sekmokas does not rule out the possibility that Lithuania abstains from lodging a new claim at all, if Gazprom decides to reduce the gas price. “I have said that it would be really good that Gazprom would realize, as soon as possible, that such monopolies would have to learn to work under competitive conditions, both in Lithuania and throughout the European Union. It is starting to happen,” Prime Minister Andrius Kubilius said.

Lithuanian negotiators sat down with envoys from Gazprom on March 25 amid wrangling over an alleged breach of contract and market reforms. In a statement, Lithuania’s Energy Ministry said that the two sides had discussed the pricing policy of Gazprom, Lithuania’s monopoly gas supplier. It also said that talks focused on Lithuania’s drive to respect new European Union gas market rules, which Gazprom has violated.

On March 3, Lithuania threw down the gauntlet by warning that unless Gazprom came to the table within 60 days, Vilnius would seek international arbitration. It has accused Gazprom of unfair pricing and putting political pressure on the Baltic nation’s government. The Russian group has denied the claim that it is abusing its market clout.
Gazprom signed a contract in 2004 that gave it a 37.1 percent stake in Lithuania’s gas distributor Lietuvos Dujos. The battle now has centered on Lithuania’s drive to respect new rules on the ‘unbundling’ of EU country gas systems, which require the separating of bulk supply from that distributed to consumers.

Gazprom and another major Lietuvos Dujos partner, the German company E.ON Ruhrgas International, which owns a 38.9-percent stake, have pressed Lithuania to seek an exemption from the reform. But the Lithuanian government, which holds 17.7 percent of Lietuvos Dujos, has so far refused.

In January, Lithuania asked the European Commission to probe the issue. Lithuania is seeking to cut its dependence on energy from Russia, a legacy of its five decades as a Soviet republic before the communist bloc collapsed in 1991.