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Lithuanian biofuel manufacturers concerned about competition with Belarus

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Baltic news, News from Latvia, BNN.LV, BNN-NEWS.COM, BNN-NEWS.RULithuanian biofuel manufacturers are worried that cheap firewood imported from Belarus could push them from the market and make Lithuania dependent on imports from their neighbour. Meanwhile Lithuanian Energy Minister does not consider the situation as dramatic as manufacturers make it out to be, adding that households will only benefit from lower heating costs, as reported by Lithuanian public media LRT.

Donatas Gustas has worked in the biofuel business for 11 years, and yet he believes this could be the last autumn for his company. He has performed considerable investments in firewood chopping equipment and is now forced to think on ways to reduce losses.

«If there’s a shortage in the market, [the government] could lower the cost of importing biofuel from Belarus. And if it’s the opposite situation – which is the case today – they should really put a brake on it,» LRT TV was told by Gustas.

Lithuanian biofuel manufacturers estimate that wood imported from Belarus accounts for at least one-third of biofuel burnt in the country’s heating plants.

Lithuania’s Energy Minister Žygimantas Vaičiūnas is confident indexes are lower by at least half and there are no risks for Lithuania to become dependent on supplies from Belarus. He is also certain that cheaper wood also means lower heating costs for residents.

Vaičiūnas explains that the state controls the quality of Belarusian biofuel. Nevertheless, it is also important to prevent heating costs from going up for residents.

The minister also adds that import volumes naturally go down come spring, when Belarusians finish cleaning forests of pests. Still, Lithuania producers are certain that only large companies will be left by then.

«In the end, the [heating] price will go up due to insufficient supply and consumers will have to pay. So on balance, I believe, it is better to pay an average price over a longer period of time than ruin our local production and then pay more,»

comments Vilma Gaubytė, the president of the Lithuanian Biomass Energy Association.

Read also: Lithuanian analysts on Russia-Belarus unification plan: actions louder than words

She also notes that next year Vilnius CHP plant will come online and will use both waste and large volumes of wood as fuel. This will increase demand for biofuel and its price, especially if local suppliers end up pushed out the market.

The article originally appeared on LRT English: https://www.lrt.lt/en/news-in-english/19/1109099/lithuanian-biofuel-industry-fears-ruin-from-cheap-belarusian-wood


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