Kubilius calls on Butkevičius, who is tipped to become Lithuania’s next prime minister, to study energy problems more thoroughly and distinguish between the interests of Lithuania and those of Russia’s gas giant Gazprom.
Certain careless statements by the Social Democratic leader might be interpreted as the suspension of major energy projects, Kubilius said in response to the views about the LNG terminal project expressed by Butkevičius in his recent interview to BNS.
“Post-electoral statements by Butkevičius about a possibility to drop the requirement for gas suppliers to buy 25 percent of gas from the future liquefied natural gas terminal may look like ruining the terminal,” Kubilius said in a press release.
Kubilius also dismissed Butkevičius’ statements about attracting private capital in the LNG terminal’s project. In his view, this would serve the interests of Gazprom, and not those of Lithuania.
“If this concerns the capital of one company, which is directly dependent on Gazprom and which has repeatedly proposed to finance the construction of the terminal [i.e. fertilizer producer Achema], I would only like to remind that the government has been constantly rejecting all such “proposals”, which are actually aimed at ruining the terminal which threatens Gazprom’s monopoly in Lithuania,” Kubilius said.
In the fall of 2008, the Social Democratic government, led by Gediminas Kirkilas, and Achema established a joint venture Gamtinių Dujų Terminalas (Natural Gas Terminal) without any competitive tender procedure. The joint venture was later liquidated. Achema was to hold 20 percent of shares in the company and planned to invest between 300 and 400 million litas (EUR 86.95-115.94m) in the terminal’s project.
However, the project was suspended as the Special Investigation Service (STT) opened a pre-trial probe into alleged crime against the state and abuse of service.
Lithuania’s existing Law on LNG Terminal obliges major consumers of natural gas to buy 25 percent of their gas volumes from the future LNG facility and another 25 percent from Gazprom.
The legislative obligation is a safeguard against monopolistic power of Russia’s gas giant Gazprom, says Kubilius.
“It is necessary to understand that Gazprom, which is negotiating long-term contracts with all importers using, of course, its monopolistic position, aims and will continue to aim at having all importers sign contracts on the purchase of 100 percent of their supplies from Gazprom. Hence the introduction of a 25-percent quota [the so-called “25 percent rule”] is a safeguard against that monopolistic power, which Gazprom has enjoyed until now.
"Moreover, it is a safeguard to validate the economic activities of the terminal,” Kubilius told the reporters on Wednesday referring to the statements about the LNG terminal’s project by Butkevičius.
The biggest opponents of the so-called “25 percent rule” include Achema, Lithuania’s largest gas consumer that has already signed a long-term gas supply contract with Gazprom, as well as Lietuvos Dujos (Lithuanian Gas), which will see its contract with Gazprom expire at the end of 2015, and the Lithuanian Association of Heat Suppliers comprising the largest district heat supply companies.