"I do not see how this would fit into Lithuania's aspirations to diversify gas suppliers and supply sources," Klaipėdos Nafta CEO Rokas Masiulis said in an interview with the paper. He confirmed once again that the company expects to sign a contract with a supplier as soon as possible, most probably by the end of this year.
Masiulis welcomed the Energy Ministry's proposal to make it obligatory for gas supply companies to purchase one-fourth of their gas imports from Klaipėdos Nafta, saying that this initiative should help create competition in the country's gas sector.
"The point is that 25 percent of the Lithuanian market amounts to 700 million cubic meters. This is approximately that minimum limit at which global gas producers start serious talks on supply contracts. If several suppliers held separate talks with production companies on imports via the terminal, they would find it hard to conclude an efficient contract because volumes would be too low. Therefore, it would be more economically efficient if a single buyer concluded a contract on gas shipments via the LNG terminal," he said.
Masiulis said that the proposed obligation would help bring at least one big player into the market, adding that the requirement could be relaxed in the future to allow the market itself to regulate relations among its participants.
"The experience of some European countries has shown that without an artificial impetus, market principles can hardly take root in the gas sector. There have been precedents when problems did not get off the ground until EU anti-trust institutions interfered. So I think that such an initiative will help accelerate the emergence of competition in Lithuania," he said.
It is planned that the LNG terminal, estimated to cost about 200 million euros, will have an annual capacity of 2 billion to 3 billion cubic meters and be operational by December 2014.
Russia's Gazprom now is Lithuania's sole natural gas supplier.