"As our company has no contracts in Lithuania, there can be no talk of any swaps," Gazprom Export's representatives told the paper in a letter. They said that Alexander Medvedev had recently visited Lithuania as Gazprom's vice-president, not as Gazprom Export's CEO.
Meanwhile, the business daily Verslo Žinios claims that Lithuania has only a theoretical possibility of purchasing gas not directly from Gazprom, but from a European country where the Russian gas monopolist sells it at the lowest price. It is practically impossible to pump gas to Lithuania without Belarus' intermediation.
Lietuvos Energija has little chance of implementing a virtual reverse flow model via Belarus, as can be judged by past precedents. In October 2010, Poland's energy company Polskie Gornictvvo Naftowe i Gazownictwo (PGNiG) tried, without Gazprom's blessing, to purchase around 3 billion cubic meters of natural gas from Germany's E.ON Ruhrgas, which extracts gas in Russia jointly with Gazprom. However, the project fell through due to opposition from Ukraine, whose gas pipelines were to be used for virtual transit to Poland.
Another important factor is the fact that, at the moment, Lithuania cannot avoid Belarus' intermediation because it does not have a land link to the EU's gas grid.
On Monday, Lietuvos Energija said that it had found a supplier in Western Europe that would sell it natural gas under more favorable conditions and had asked Gazprom Export to provide an opportunity for natural gas swaps. Part of gas that the Russian company supplies to Poland via Belarus would be diverted to Lietuvos Energija and the resulting gas shortage in Poland would be covered from gas purchased by the Lithuanian company.