By BRAYN BRADLEY & MILDA SEPUTYTE
VILNIUS (Bloomberg) -- Lithuania is
considering ending its long-term gas agreements with Gazprom
after its liquefied-natural-gas terminal begins working this
year, Lithuanian President Dalia Grybauskaite said.
Access to alternative cheaper gas supplies via the terminal
will help shake off political and economic pressure from Russia
and bring the Baltic nation real independence from
Gazprom, Grybauskaite said in an interview with IQ
magazines January issue. Gazprom is the countrys
sole gas supplier.
More than two decades after breaking free from the Soviet
Union, Lithuania is struggling to reduce Russian dominance in
its energy sector. The Baltic nation pays the highest price for
Russian gas supplies in Europe, Prime Minister Algirdas
Butkevicius has said.
The government is seeking a 25% price cut from Gazprom. The
talks are advancing very slowly, Butkevicius said
in an interview with Kauno Diena, adding that the government
has now received some reaction from Gazprom to its proposals
after two months of silence.
Grybauskaite said the governments talks with Gazprom
are not negotiations but a set of demands and political
pressure from Russia that well exceed the bounds of
energy and Gazproms relations with Lithuania.
Russia imposed tighter border checks on Lithuanian cargo and
vehicles for almost a month in September, disrupting shipments
to the Baltic states biggest export destination. It also
banned all dairy imports from Lithuania for three months in
October on what it said were safety concerns. Lithuanian dairy
exports fell 72% in October from a year earlier.
In 2012, Lithuanias previous government sued Gazprom
in a Stockholm arbitration court for $1.98 billion, the amount
the country says it was overcharged for gas since 2004. That
followed a European Union antitrust probe, partly at
Lithuanias request, regarding the Russian companys
pricing for gas sales in central and eastern Europe.
The Baltic nations floating LNG
terminal is on course to start operations in December.
State-controlled operator Klaipedos Nafta has agreed to lease a
newly built LNG ship named Independence from
Norways Hoegh LNG Holdings Ltd.
The new LNG
terminal means Lithuania can very seriously consider the
option of not having any agreements with Gazprom when its
gas supply deal expires at the end of next year, Grybauskaite
Lithuania shunned EU aid to build the LNG
terminal, as that would have slowed the projects completion. That may
help Lithuania become the first Baltic country to escape
Gazproms supply monopoly, Grybauskaite said in an
interview in November.