US Focus on Central and Eastern European Energy Projects

Date

2019 03 15

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Minister of Energy Žygimantas Vaičiūnas is participating in the first ministerial forum for transatlantic energy cooperation taking place in Houston (USA) on March 13–15. The objective of the forum, which is being held on the initiative of US Energy Secretary Rick Perry, is to increase support from the US government and private companies for energy projects in Central and Eastern Europe.

At the forum, Mr Vaičiūnas presented a report on LNG import needs and opportunities for development in Lithuania and the region, shared successful experience in implementing strategic energy infrastructure projects, and spoke about the energy challenges that face Lithuania and the region.

“The success story of the Lithuanian LNG terminal is evident not only in Europe, but also on the other side of the Atlantic. The decision made by Lithuania 100 days ago to acquire a floating storage regasification unit enhances practical opportunities for transatlantic cooperation. This decision, which was made now, when US LNG export is on the rise, increases Lithuania’s credibility as an LNG buyer. This means that potential LNG contracts with US companies should be as advantageous as possible for our consumers in terms of price,” said Mr Vaičiūnas.

At the same time, the minister noted that it is now crucial to implement and complete the projects that will ultimately ensure the energy independence and security of the Baltic States. The most important of these projects is synchronisation of the electricity network with the continental European grid, which has made major headway over the past two years.

“We have to do everything we can to prevent third countries from using energy as a tool for geopolitical blackmail. This is the essence and meaning of synchronisation of the Baltic States with Europe. We have particularly negative examples right here where third countries are developing new instruments for possible geopolitical blackmail,” said the minister, emphasising the threat to the region and the entire EU posed by the Astravets Nuclear Power Plant that is being built near the Lithuanian border.

The minister noted that at the meeting of the ESPO Convention countries that took place a month ago, it was finally recognised that Belarus had violated the provisions of the Convention by inappropriately selecting the site for the construction of this nuclear power plant.

“This confirmed once and for all that this project is being carried out in violation of international conventions and the highest international nuclear safety standards. It is not too late for Belarus to change the situation and preserve the reputation of both the country and nuclear energy as a whole. By showing Belarus possible solutions, it can still take advantage of the last chance, since once it launches the nuclear power plant, Belarus will only further strengthen its energy dependence on Russia for long decades to come,” said Mr Vaičiūnas at the forum.

US Energy Secretary Rick Perry announced the initiative for strengthening transatlantic energy cooperation at the Three Seas Initiative Summit that took place in Bucharest on 18 September 2018. This initiative proposes increasing support from the US government and private companies for projects being implemented in Central and Eastern European countries in the areas of critical energy infrastructure, cybersecurity, nuclear power, the coal industry and natural gas.

This is meant to contribute to the strengthening of the region’s energy security through practical forms of transatlantic energy cooperation.  This initiative is in line with the energy goals of Lithuania and the other countries in the region, as well as their interest to strengthen relations with the US.

During his visit to Houston, the minister will, together with Lietuvos Energija CEO Darius Maikštėnas, participate in events that are part of CERA Week 2019, which is called the US Energy Davos, as well as bilateral meetings to discuss the short- and long-term perspectives for LNG import to Lithuania with representatives from US companies.