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Published: 26 april 2012 11:36

Gazprom continues to file claims against Lithuanian government decisions

„RIA Novosti“/„Scanpix“ / „Gazprom“

Pressure put by Russia’s natural gas giant Gazprom on Lithuania has increased, Energy Minister Arvydas Sekmokas has said.

He told other Cabinet members on Wednesday that Gazprom had filed its third claim against Lithuania to arbitration. Moreover, the company sought to interfere in the government’s decision-making.

“Gazprom is taking all measures, and aggressively so, to prevent the implementation of the third package and creation of competition on the natural gas market. Pressure has reached the point where Gazprom puts forward its own edited draft decisions, which, in its opinion, should be adopted by the government,” Sekmokas said.

Gazprom filed the third claim against Lithuania to foreign arbitration earlier this week, he added.

The new claim deals with Kauno Termofikacijos Elektrinė (Kaunas combined heat-and-power (CHP) plant, or KTE), which Gazprom wants to sell to a minority shareholder of KTE – US company Clement Power Venture – but the authorities of Kaunas are not inclined to approve that since Gazprom has not implemented its investment commitments set forth in the KTE purchase agreement signed back in 2003.

Inga Černiuk, head of law department at the Energy Ministry, told BNS that the Justice Ministry got a notification from the ICC’s arbitration body on 20 April about Gazprom’s claim filed to arbitration on 19 March. The Russian company asked to initiate an investment dispute under the bilateral investment promotion and protection agreement between Lithuania and Russia.

“Gazprom derives its claims from its failed investment in the KTE, which it has recently pulled out of,” Černiuk said.

The implementation of the European Union’s (EU) third energy package, which will involve the unbundling of gas transmission, distribution and supply operations of Gazprom-co-owned Lithuanian gas company Lietuvos Dujos (Lithuanian Gas), shall be completed by the end of 2014.

Last August, Gazprom lodged a complaint with the 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 Russian gas giant said early in March that 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.

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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