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Week in Lithuania. Lithuanian government weighs options to cut Klaipėda LNG terminal’s costs

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Baltic news, News from Latvia, BNN.LV, BNN-NEWS.COM, BNN-NEWS.RUThe Lithuanian government is looking into several options to cut the costs of maintenance of the Klaipėda liquefied natural gas terminal, Prime Minister Algirdas Butkevičius said on Thursday, July 2.

However, Butkevičius would not say if these options include purchasing the terminal’s floating storage and regasification unit (FSRU), which it leases from Norways’s Hoegh LNG.

«This is confidential information,» he told reporters when asked if the acquisition of the FSRU was being considered. Butkevičius spoke after chairing a meeting of a commission in charge of the LNG terminal project implementation. Energy Minister Rokas Masiulis made it clear that Hoegh LNG and other companies would have to be involved in discussions in order to cut the terminal’s costs.

Litgas and Statoil prepare joint venture

Natural gas supply and trading company Litgas, part of Lithuania’s state owned energy holding Lietuvos Energija, and Norway’s Statoil, a leading global energy company in oil and gas production, signed a memorandum of understanding (MoU) on Thursday, July 2, in Vilnius regarding establishment of a joint venture company in Lithuania to develop small scale LNG bunkering services.

The new joint venture company is planned to be established in Lithuania later this year and would supply LNG as a fuel to ships, small terminals in the Baltic Sea, and transport LNG by trucks to on-shore customers. According to the Litgas General Manager Dominykas Tučkus, increased usage of the Klaipėda terminal will help to reduce infrastructure and maintenance costs incurred by the Lithuanian and Baltic gas consumers and position Klaipėda as an important hub in the Baltic LNG market.

«We believe that the small scale LNG market in the Baltic Sea has the potential to become commercially attractive business opportunity. The combined competencies of the two companies put the joint venture in a position to successfully develop this market and contribute to the usage of environmentally cleaner fuel in the Baltic region. Naturally, all relevant regulatory and corporate approvals will need to be obtained prior to the final investment decision,» Geir Heitmann, Chief Origination Officer, LNG, Statoil, said.

It is predicted that Baltic Sea small scale LNG market can reach from 0.5 to 1 BCM a year by 2020. The joint venture company would be well positioned to supply this growing market due to convenient logistical setup capturing one of the shortest supply chains in the region and operational flexibility. The joint venture company is expected to start its small scale supply operations in the last quarter of 2017 or sooner.

Lithuania supports international fight against nuclear terrorism

The four-day Sherpa Meeting before the 2016 Nuclear Security Summit ended on July 2 in Vilnius. The meeting brought together 130 high-ranking officials from 48 countries along with representatives from international organisations like the United Nations (UN), International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA), the European Union (EU) and Interpol, said the Ministry of Foreign Affairs.

The first Sherpa Meeting in Vilnius was organised by the Lithuanian Ministry of Foreign Affairs in collaboration with the US White House, the Department of State and the Embassy in Lithuania. The Nuclear Security Summit will take place on March 31 -April 1 2016 in Washington, D.C.

Lithuanian foreign minister might eye parliament seat

Lithuanian Foreign Affairs Minister Linas Linkevičius might run for parliament during the Seimas elections in 2016 and might be nominated by the now-ruling Social Democratic Party of Lithuania in the country’s second-largest city of Kaunas.

The Social Democrats have decided to recover positions lost in major cities by throwing their heavy weaponry, and Linkevičius is among potential candidates.

The minister was born and raised in Kaunas and launched his political career here. Kaunas has long been considered a tough city for leftist parties as it has been long deemed the stronghold of the opposition conservative Homeland Union – Lithuanian Christian Democrats.

Vilnius court orders Air Lituanica asset freeze

A court has ordered a freeze on all of the assets of Air Lituanica, a defunct airline that is indirectly owned by the city of Vilnius. Vilnius Regional Court issued the freezing order at the request of Air Lituanica’s largest creditor, the district heating grid operator Vilniaus Šilumos Tinklai (Vilnius Heating Grid). Air Lituanica announced on May 22 that it was suspending operations and said a week later that it would file for bankruptcy. According to data from Vilnius local authority, the air carrier’s net loss almost doubled last year compared with 2013 to reach 10.27 million euros. Its annual revenues last year rose by 70.2 percent to 6.4 million euros.

Three Ukrainian troops arrive for rehabilitation

Three Ukrainian soldiers who were injured during the ongoing conflict in eastern Ukraine have arrived in Lithuanian for rehabilitation this week. The troops will undergo rehabilitation at the Military Rehabilitation Centre in the southern resort town of Druskininkai, Viktorija Cieminytė, spokeswoman for the national defence minister, told BNS, a Lithuanian news agency, on Thursday, July 2. In her words, the incoming Ukrainian troops replaced three outgoing troops who had finished treatment in Lithuania. All in all, 24 Ukrainian troops have come to Lithuania for full rehabilitation this year and the country plans to accept 50 in total.

Vilnius Liberals kick British member out for disrespectful Facebook post

Mark Adam Harold, a British citizen and member of the Vilnius Council’s Liberal Movement political group, has been kicked out of the group for a disrespectful Facebook post about Lithuania.

«The group decided to remove Harold as his behaviour is inappropriate for a politician and shows disrespect for Lithuanian people, which is neither compatible with the position of a councillor, nor the Liberal Movement’s values and moral norms,» Vincas Jurgutis, the group’s leader, told journalists at Vilnius Municipality. Last weekend, Harold posted on Facebook: «F**k you Lithuania, make gay marriage legal and accept 1000 refugees now. NOW.»

Lithuania appoints honorary consul in Kharkov

Konstiantyn Tokarev has been appointed Lithuania’s honorary consul in the Ukrainian region of Kharkov. The solemn exequatur presentation ceremony took place at Ukraine’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs earlier this week, Lithuania’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs said. The appointment of Lithuania’s honorary consul in the region of Kharkov is very important for stepping up representation of Lithuania’s interests in this eastern Ukraine region. Tokarev is Lithuania’s tenth honorary consul in Ukraine. The Baltic country has also honorary consuls in Lvov, Zhitomir, Kherson, Uzhhorod, Ivano-Frankivsk, Dnepropetrovsk, Odessa, Simpheropol and Kiev Region.

Lithuanian soldiers seen off to Operation ATALANTA

Two Lithuanian soldiers from the National Support Element (NSE) have been seen off to the Operation ATALANTA in Africa, the Ministry of National Defence said on Thursday, July 2. The NSE soldiers will be providing logistic support to subsequent Lithuanian units which will be in charge of protecting a UN World Food Program-chartered vessel.

The two deployed logistics specialists of the Lithuanian Armed Forces will be based in a French-led military base in Djibouti, capital of the Republic of Djibouti, the ministry said. As of March 2016, Lithuania will contribute two Autonomous Vessel Protection Detachments (AVPD), both 16-strong, to the EU Naval Force Somalia to protect a UN WFP vessel transporting humanitarian assistance to the continent of Africa.

Mogherini’s Vilnius visit postponed due to Iran talks

High Representative of the European Union for Foreign Affairs and Security Policy Federica Mogherini has postponed her planned visit to Vilnius this week due to negotiations on Iran’s nuclear programme, the spokesman for the Lithuanian foreign minister has confirmed.

Mogherini was initially scheduled to come to Lithuania on Thursday, July 2. Her agenda included giving a speech at the annual meeting of Lithuanian ambassadors and also meeting with Lithuanian President Dalia Grybauskaitė. Iran and six other countries – the US, the UK, China, France, Russia and Germany – have extended the negotiations on Iran’s nuclear program until July 7. The talks are aimed at securing a deal on sanctions relief for Iran in exchange for limits on Iranian nuclear activities.

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