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Sunday 25.03.2018 | Name days: Māra, Marita, Mārīte

Lithuania’s political and economic diary. Lithuania’s floating LNG carrier hailed as Baltics’ energy security guarantee

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Baltic news, News from Latvia, BNN.LV, BNN-NEWS.COM, BNN-NEWS.RUThe buzz leading up to the arrival and introduction of the the vessel, Independence, a floating liquefied natural gas storage and regasification unit, on October 27 was akin to the restoration of Lithuania’s own independence 24 years ago.

If run at full-capacity, almost 4 billion cubic meters a year, the Klaipeda LNG terminal is expected to cover 80-90% of the Baltic region’s LNG demand, including that of Latvia and Estonia.

The vessel, Independence, has a capacity of 170,000 cubic meters and is leased by Klaipedos Nafta AB, the state-owned energy terminal operator, from Norway’s Hoegh LNG Holdings (HLNG) for 10 years with a possibility to buy the FSRU thereafter. The Norwegians will also provide maintenance and the crew.

Norway’s Statoil, which has a contract to supply the terminal with LNG for five years to cover its minimum operations, will be supplying the Klaipeda LNGT 540 million cubic meters of gas per year, and the price will be pegged to the UK gas index.

Lithuania’s new liquefied natural gas terminal in Klaipėda will be able to cover around 90% of the gas needs of Lithuania, Latvia and Estonia.

«Lithuania has built the terminal on its own. It took only three and a half years to complete the project. We have become an energy-secure country. (The terminal) will be a security guarantee for the Baltic region. We will always be able to come to our neighbours’ aid if they need this, Lithuanian President Dalia Grybauskaitė said during an official ceremony to welcome the floating storage and regasification unit in Klaipėda.

The LNG terminal is not only an energy project, but also a geopolitical project that will ensure the Baltic region’s energy independence,» Grybauskaitė said.

«From now on, nobody will be able to dictate the price of gas to us or buy our political will, or bribe our politicians,» she said.

Grybauskaitė also thanked the governments of Andrius Kubilius and Algirdas Butkevičius for their efforts in implementing the LNG terminal project despite «objections and attempts to put sticks in wheels».

The LNG terminal will allow not only Lithuania, but also the other two Baltic countries to secure gas supply at a favourable price, said Latvia’s Prime Minister Laimdota Straujuma during the ceremony in Klaipėda.

She also promised to increase the natural gas supply capacity between Lithuania and Latvia.

She said Latvia is welcoming the liquefied natural gas terminal in Klaipėda as it is opening the way for obtaining alternative gas sources and a better price for consumers.

«We are now planning to increase the capacity of the gas pipeline between the Klaipėda terminal and Latvia. We are also looking forward to timely completion of the gas supply segment between Poland and Lithuania. This will be another important step towards ending the energy isolation of the Baltic states,» she said.

Latvia’s Incukalns underground gas storage facility will become a key element of the region’s gas network and will help the region to promote cooperation with global energy suppliers, the Latvian Prime Minister said.

Latvia had earlier opposed Lithuania’s LNG terminal project and wanted to build a regional terminal itself.

Straujuma said in early May that the Baltic countries, Finland and Poland finally had to reach an agreement on a regional LNG facility so as to get ready for importing of gas from the U.S. She has also said Latvia is looking for alternative natural gas supply sources and Lithuania’s LNG terminal could be one of them.

United States Secretary of State John Kerry on Monday called Lithuania’s LNG terminal «a historic milestone».

In a letter to the Lithuanian President and Prime Minister, the U.S. Secretary of State praised «Lithuania’s strong and sustained leadership and strategic vision» for the implementation of energy diversification projects.

The letter was read out during the official ceremony in Klaipėda.

The first shipment of liquefied natural gas (LNG) was pumped into Lithuania’s new floating LNG terminal, the Independence last Tuesday, October 28. Part of the shipment was intended to test the terminal – according to specialists, its systems work flawlessly.

In all, 100,000 cubic metres of liquefied gas was pumped into the floating storage and regasification unit, an equivalent of 60 metres cubic metres of gas. The shipment was delivered by the tanker Golar Seal.

Of the 60 metres cubic metres of gas, some 50 metres will be test-delivered to the gas transmission system, while the remaining volume will be used for the terminal’s needs.

«The first LNG pumping from the tanker to the LNG terminal-storage went smoothly, safely and without any system hiccups. On Friday, we will carry out various additional procedures: measure LNG volumes and prepare for Golar Seal’s departure from Klaipėda port,» said Mantas Bartuška, CEO of Klaipėdos Nafta (Klaipėda Oil).

NATO military drill begins

Soldiers from nine NATO nations are participating in this year’s biggest military exercise event, Iron Sword 2014, in Lithuania. The exercise, starting this weekend, November 1, and organized by the Lithuanian army, will involve some 2,500 soldiers.

Iron Sword 2014 will last from 2 to 14 November. Participants include soldiers from the Czech Republic, Estonia, the United States, the United Kingdom, Canada, Lithuania, Luxembourg, Hungary and Germany. Most of them, 1,900, are from the Lithuanian army.

Invest Lithuania’s chief steps down

Arvydas Arnašius, the head the non-profit organisation Invest Lithuania, has stepped down.

Vaiva Gogelienė, spokeswoman for Economy Minister Evaldas Gustas, told that Arnašius handed in his resignation, which was then accepted by the Minister.

According to her, Invest Lithuania will be temporarily headed by Viktoras Basokas, who is chief of the Administration and Finance Department.

The Ministry of Economy requires the candidates to the position of the director general to have a master’s degree from a university, command of the English language at the C2 level and command of one more foreign language, also to have at least seven years of working experience, three of them in managing positions. The candidate should be experienced in international co-operation and investment.

Soviet Green Bridge statues in Vilnius to be removed for restoration

Vilnius Municipality will issue a new call for tenders for the restoration of Soviet statues on the Green Bridge in central Vilnius. The contractor will this time be allowed to remove the statues from the site during renovation.

The permission has been given by the Cultural Heritage Department.

A previous attempt to find a contractor to renovate the metal statues failed, because the renovation had to be done on site.

The four groups of statues, representing Soviet soldiers, workers, peasants and students, have stood on the bridge since 1952.

Critics say they are part of Soviet propaganda and an eyesore for people who fought against the Soviet occupation. The other side claims that by keeping the sculptures Lithuania will show it has dealt with ghosts of the past.

Lithuanian Interior Minister resigns

Lithuania’s Interior Minister Dailis Alfonsas Barakauskas of the Order and Justice Party resigned on Thursday, October 30, citing health issues, but no one doubts that behind the decision stands the Special Investigation Service’s bust in the party’s Vilnius headquarters amid the ongoing investigation into the party’s high-profiled officials’ malfeasants.

Finding a new Interior Minister will take a few days, Rolandas Paksas, leader of Lithuania’s Order and Justice party, says, adding that a candidate could be nominated as early as next week.

«It will take a few days. We have to speak with the Prime Minister, the Speaker of the Seimas, in the party, perhaps with the President as well,» he told.

According to Paksas, it’s realistic to hope that a candidate for the Interior Minister post could be presented to Prime Minister Algirdas Butkevičius next week.

Paksas says his party will look for a competent team player for the position. It would be good if he or she were a member of his party. But he did not discount the possibility of proposing an independent candidate.

Ref: 020/

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