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Energy Minister hints at a possible counter-suit againts Gazprom

Arvydas Sekmokas
Šarūno Mažeikos/BFL nuotr. / Arvydas Sekmokas
Šaltinis: BNS

Lithuanian Energy Minister Arvydas Sekmokas said that his reaction to Gazprom's move to seek international arbitration against the government was "calm and restrained".

"We analyzed the circumstances of the arbitration case and what counter steps we can take. We follow Gazprom's arbitration suit very calmly and with restraint. Perhaps, there is a possibility of filing a countersuit as well," he told reporters.

Last Thursday, the Russian gas giant announced it had filed a suit with the United Nations Commission on International Trade Law (UNCITRAL) in order to protect its investments in Lithuania amid the country's natural gas sector reform.

Gazprom made the announcement during last Thursday's meeting of the management board of Lietuvos Dujos (Lithuanian Gas), which was held to decide on the potential split of the company. The Russian company said that the terms of agreement reached on 27 February, during a working meeting with the Lithuanian government and the European Commission officials, had not been fulfilled.

Lithuanian Prime Minister Andrius Kubilius, Energy Minister Arvydas Sekmokas, Gazprom Export CEO Alexander Medvedev and the European Commission's Director-General for Energy, Philip Lowe, discussed the planned gas sector reform in Lithuania during the 27 February meeting in Vilnius.

Kubilius said later that the participants of the meeting had agreed that the reorganization of the Lithuanian gas sector should be implemented by the end of 2014.

According to the new Law on Natural Gas, Lietuvos Dujos, which is owned by E. ON Ruhrgas and Gazprom, has time until May 31 to submit a plan for splitting off its natural gas transmission business into a separate company that will have to change owners in several years' time.

The government has set a late 2014 deadline for the unbundling of gas assets in line with the EU's Third Energy Package.

Last August, Gazprom lodged a complaint with Stockholm Arbitration Institute. The Russian gas monopolist wants the Energy Ministry's court action against Lietuvos Dujos and its management to be recognized as breaching the Lithuanian company's shareholder agreement and seeks compensation for losses incurred as a result.

The Lithuanian government has filed a formal complaint to Brussels over possible unfair pricing and abuse of market dominance by Gazprom, which is the country's sole gas supplier.

Gazprom owns 37.1 percent of shares in Lietuvos Dujos, E.ON Ruhrgas International holds 38.9 percent, and the Lithuanian Energy Ministry holds 17.7 percent. Lietuvos Dujos is quoted on the blue-chip Main List of the NASDAQ OMX Vilnius stock exchange.

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