Lithuania could help Belarus seek alternative gas routes

Petras Vaida, BC, Vilnius,

Lithuania, which will build a liquefied natural gas terminal to ease dependence on Russian gas, may also help neighbour Belarus seek alternative natural gas routes, Lithuania's premier said Tuesday. Prime Minister Andrius Kubilius met with Belarus Prime Minister Sergei Sidorski for talks late Tuesday on developing separate LNG infrastructures on Lithuania's Baltic Sea coast to serve the two ex-Soviet states.

"Belarus is showing its interest. I said we see the possibility of developing two parallel projects that could be joined in the future," Kubilius told AFP on telephone from Nesvizh, Belarus, adding that a preliminary expert analysis would be known this fall.

Last week the Lithuanian government approved a liquefied natural gas terminal on the Baltic Sea as part of efforts to cut its dependence on supplies from Russia.

The government announced that state-owned company Klaipedos Nafta had been assigned to draw up details of the new project, writes LETA/ELTA.

The terminal is planned to cover only Lithuania's natural gas needs but a Belarusian proposal for another to meet its own requirements could be considered later, Kubilius said following the decision last Wednesday.

"Our yearly needs consist of a maximum of three billion cubic meters of natural gas while Belarus needs an additional eight to 10 billion cubic meters per year.

"Construction of the latter terminal would be much more difficult, so we treat it only as a separate possible project," he said.

Lithuania's gas arrives from Russia via a pipeline across Belarus, and has been affected by feuds between Moscow and Minsk that have interrupted supply.

In June its supplies dipped by more than 40% amid a row between Belarus and Russia over gas payments and transit fees.

Belarus was for years Russia's chief ally in the ex-Soviet region, but authoritarian Belarus President Alexander Lukashenko has in recent months taken a more independent line, notably by seeking to rebuild relations with the European Union and Lithuania.


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