This week, Latvian government decided behind closed doors not to support the involvement of Ventspils Freeport in the Nord Stream 2 project, according to publicly available information.
Based on conclusions of Defence Ministry and Environmental Protection and Regional Development Ministry, which mention major risks for national security, as well as taking into account recommendations for security services, the Cabinet of Ministers decided not to support any activities associated with Nord Stream 2 project on Latvia’s territory.
At the same time, the government ordered economy minister, transport minister, environmental minister and finance minister to make sure the government’s representatives elected in the board of Ventspils Freeport vote against the port’s involvement in Nord Stream 2 project in any form.
Recently Ventspils Freeport and two of its active terminals – Noord Natie Ventspils Terminals and Eurohome Latvija – have received an invitation to join the construction of Nord Stream 2 gas pipeline through Ventspils Freeport, as confirmed by Aivars Lembergs.
According to estimates provided by Ventspils Freeport authority, the total benefit from involvement in this project would have been EUR 25 million for Latvia’s national economy. Lembergs added that Foreign Affairs Ministry opposes Latvia’s involvement in this project.
The offer extended to Ventspils Freeport by the project’s organizers stated that Ventspils would store the pipes necessary for construction in the port’s territory for later delivery to the pipeline’s construction location at sea. Ventspils Freeport terminals’ total cargo area is too small to accommodate the large number of pipeline components. Project’s organizers offered to invest EUR 14 million in the construction of additional cargo space in an area of 7 ha and then gift this newly-established expansion to the freeport after the project’s completion.
As noted by Lembergs, four out of eight members of the freeport’s board are delegated from ministries. On top of that, Foreign Affairs Ministry does not support Latvia’s involvement in the project. «With that, they can give an order to not support the project. If this project is not supported and the government vetoes it using its board members in the freeport’s board, I hope Ventspils, like Sweden, will receive at least EUR 20 million as compensation,» Lembergs commented. According to unofficial information from Lembergs, Slite Port in Sweden was convinced not to participate in the project in exchange for government compensation of nearly EUR 20 million.
«Foreign Affairs Ministry does not want Latvia to participate in this projects realization, as it requires specific steps. […] Poland has interests – they don’t want Germany to receive gas directly from Russia. They want Poland to be part of the network, and this desire coming from Poland is understandable, but what should Latvia pay for it?» Lembergs asks, noting that he is of a different opinion about this matter. «Russia supplies gas, but the recipient is a NATO member state and the heart of economy of the European Union – Germany. I think that the decision not to support Nord Stream 2 in a situation when Latvia can benefit from it economically is a decision not to support Germany’s energy security, which goes against NATO treaty […] and European Union agreement.»