RIGA - Prime Minister Karisjanis Karins (New Unity) does not rule out a simultaneous development of liquefied natural gas (LNG) terminal projects in Paldiski, Estonia, and the Latvian port of Skulte.
In an interview with Latvian Radio on Thursday, the prime minister indicated that the Estonian project could be implemented in a shorter period of time and that Latvia could get involved as a lessee while it builds its own LNG terminal in Skulte, as the Latvian project would take more time to complete.
The prime minister projected that the LNG terminal in Paldiski, which would be financially less favorable, might completed already by the end of this year, while the LNG terminal in Skulte might be built in two years' time. There is also an alternative option to build a similar terminal at the port of Riga, but this terminal's capacity would be smaller.
Karins said that the options are currently being discussed on the level of experts who are also talking to potential investors and neighbor countries in order to find a solution for achieving the region's independence from Russian natural gas imports as soon as possible.
The prime minister voiced hope that the government might come to a conceptual agreement on matter next week.
The prime minister noted that Latvia would not be able to develop the Skulte LNG terminal project for state funds.
In Karins' words, development of the Skulte LNG terminal project has been stalling in Latvia because of Russian gas giant Gazprom's policies, which had also been impeding the option of the Klaipeda LNG terminal in Lithuania. Namely, Gazprom has been selling natural gas to the Baltic states for a "few cents" below the price of LNG, thus hampering any investment.
"Now that it is clear that we will be dropping Russian gas, the investors' interest is completely different... I already see that there is interests and that there will be fast development," Karins said.
The prime minister added that the effect from scrapping Russian gas would be much bigger if other countries were also working to give up Russian gas. "These would be inconveniences, but then we would really stop the big cash flow to Russia," Karins said.
As reported, the Saeima's Economic, Agriculture, Environmental and Regional Policy Committee on Wednesday endorsed a proposal to impose a ban on natural gas supplies from Russia to Latvia.