By BRYAN BRADLEY
VILNIUS (Bloomberg) -- Lithuania plans to
move ahead with a $767 million project linking the Baltic natural
gas transmission grid with the rest of Europe via Poland
after the European Union gave it priority status.
The EU included the link in the list of common-interest
energy projects published earlier this
month, which means the pipeline is eligible for as much as 75 %
financing by the 28-nation bloc, Lithuanias Energy
Ministry in the capital Vilnius said today in an e-mailed
statement. Progress in talks with Poland also means territorial
planning can now start, the ministry said.
The new Polish connector, along with planned liquefied natural
gas terminals in the Baltic region, will help Lithuania,
Latvia and Estonia escape current total dependence on Gazprom
gas supplies. Its also part of EU plans for a
north-south gas corridor across central and eastern Europe
linking the Baltic, Black, Adriatic and Aegean Seas.
Our gas link with Poland is strategically important
for the entire region, Lithuanian Energy Minister
Jaroslav Neverovic said in the statement.
This project will contribute
significantly to realizing one of the EUs main energy
policy goals - completing the internal market.
Lithuanian and Polish gas transmission system operators,
Amber Grid and Gaz-System, are managing the project to build 534 km of pipeline
between Jauniunai in Lithuania and Rembelszczyzna in Poland,
the ministry said.
The connection, known as GIPL, is now scheduled to start
operations in 2018, Saulius Bilys, Amber Grids CEO, said
at a conference in Vilnius. Its initial capacity to transport
2.4 bcm per year of gas can be increased later to 4.1 bcm,