Latviski English По-русски
Monday 20.05.2019 | Name days: Venta, Salvis, Selva

Lithuanian PM‘s «plan-hooligan» on Belarus‘ NPP remake thumbed down

(No Ratings Yet)

Baltic news, News from Latvia, BNN.LV, BNN-NEWS.COM, BNN-NEWS.RU

Linas Jegelevičius for the BNN

The Lithuanian prime minister‘s plan to transform a nearly-ready-to-use nuclear power plant in Belarus’ Astravyets, just a mere 50 kilometres from Lithuanian capital Vilnius, to an innocuous gas-fired heat and power plant has crashed and burned.

Belarus has shrugged off the idea, emphasising that it, not Lithuania can decide what kind of a power generator to build on its land.

It just can be guessed if the Lithuanian PM’s plan on the remake of the Belarus plant was a serious intent or an outrageous publicity stunt in attempt to boost the ratings ahead of the country’s presidential election on May 12.

In a written response to Baltic News Network (BNN), Žana Zenkevič, head of Communications of the Belarusian Ministry of Energy, said that the ministry has not received any letter from the Lithuanian prime minister.

«We did not receive it. As far as I am informed, neither our Government», says the response.

Speaking to Belarus’, Vasilij Poliuchovič, director of the Nuclear Energy Department at the Belarusian ministry of Energy, said that it doesn’t «make sense» for him to convert the existing infrastructure in Astravyets into a gas-fired power facility.

«We see the plant as one serving our own interests, one ensuring the electricity supply and diversification of our energy sources…As we currently produce ca 95 percent of electricity from gas-fired plants, it just doesn’t make sense to change anything in the regard,» he added.

Skvernelis revealed his eye and ear-catchy idea on his trip to the Kėdainiai region in early March. Acknowledging the strategic economic importance of the neighbour – it is estimated that ca 10 percent of Lithuania’s budget is produced by Klaipėda seaport-related firms, of which the Klaipėda Brittle Cargo Terminal, a major firm in the port, is co-owned by Belarus – he cautioned that the contested construction of the Astravyets NPP sours the otherwise neighbourly relations.

«There is one issue preventing us from collaborating with Belarus on the highest level. I mean the Astravyets nuclear power plant which is completed and which had to be halted when it was possible to do it…What can we do now? We (in the government) have got a plan-hooligan, which, if implemented, could reverse things. I will propose Belarusians a solution, a rational one. Makes sure: not one demanding to close the facility,» Skvernelis said in Kėdainiai.

Soon thereafter he proposed to converse the Astravyets facility from a nuclear power plant to a gas-fired power plant.

Although Lithuania’s Energy ministry hurried to back up Skvernelis’ plan as «feasible», premier was subjected to a good deal of lambasting on social media and by energy experts.

Most of the commentators concurred that Skvernelis, falling behind the frontrunner, economist Gitanas Nausėda and Ingrida Šimonytė, a MP, in the presidential polls, is desperate to catch up with the two and thus make it to the second round of the election.

«Do not think that prime minister just came up with the idea and blurted it out. It has been discussed. Speaking of the plan, there are concrete cases, like that in the United States, when a to-be nuclear power plant has been converted into a gas-fired power plant,» Devidas Matulionis, vice-chancellor of Lithuanian government’s chancellery, said on a TV programme.

According to the government statement, if Belarus abandoned the Astravyets project, more than 60 percent of its infrastructure could be used for a gas-fuelled heat and power plant.

According to Lithuanian government, Skvernelis signed the letter to his Belarusian counterpart, Sergey Rumas.

Arvydas Sekmokas, former Energy minister and now an independent energy expert, ponders that Skvernelis’s proposal has not been discussed at all, especially on a larger scale.

«There should be probably a couple of explanations for the proposal. First, it is all about the presidential elections, I firmly believe. But I cannot rule out that it has to do with the ongoing reconstruction of the Ignalina-Utena power substation which is key to ensuring electricity flows to the Astravyets power plant. Who can deny that with our prime minister’s proposal rejected (by Belarus), he will start pushing forward the idea of purchasing the electricity from Astravyets. I think the possibility cannot be ruled out,» Arvydas Sekmokas, told BNN.

However, Matulionis insisted that it has never been in the Government‘s plans and claimed that reconstruction of the power substation is needed for the ongoing synchronisation of the Baltic power grids with the European network.

«The power line connecting Lithuania and Belarus through the Ignalina- Utena station will soon be disconnected,» Matulionis assured.

Both agreed that Belarus needs to be «made» understand that the Astravyets nuclear power facility has «no future» if the closest neighbours, including Lithuania, do not purchase its electricity.

Lithuania has been criticising the Astravyets nuclear facility, being constructed by Russia’s Rosatom for many years. Its first reactor is due to come online later this year, with the second reactor’s launch scheduled for 2020. Lithuanias ought to block the Belarusian project at the EU level but has failed to secure support from EU institutions and other countries.

Until now, only Poland and Estonia have said they will not purchase the Astravyets NPP’s generation. Meanwhile, Latvia was hesitant, largely due to its large volume of trade with Belarus.

Latvia’s new prime minister, Krišjanis Kariņš, who visited Vilnius last Friday, said standing alongside with Skvernelis that the Belarusians need to decide themselves what to do with the Astravyets nuclear power plant.

«If they want, they can do that. Will Belarus do that is another question and the Belarusian themselves should speak about that,» he said.«Whatever Belarus plans to do with this plant, it’s the hand of the Belarusians… I am well aware of the Lithuanian Seimas’ adopted law banning the purchase of power produced in Astravyets.»

«From the Latvian side, we support a common Baltic solution, just like the one on gas sales…There are various models in the world, there’s the Finnish model on how they purchase from Russia, and this is the direction we could consider,» the Latvian prime minister was quoted as saying.

Leave a reply

Estonia investigates electricity blackout in Russian border city

In Estonia, an investigation has been opened into a power blackout that took place in the north-eastern border city of Narva and other places in the region.

Latvia’s Saeima to pick a new state president after EP elections

Saeima’s Praesidium and Faction Council decided on 20 May to keep the State President’s Election Day unchanged – it will happen 29 May.

Study: packaging convenience still trumps environment friendliness

For Latvian residents convenience of packages remains the most important factor. However, environment friendliness is gradually becoming more and more important for people, according to results of a study by Immer Group.

Harmony reportedly used RTDB to hire foreign political communication specialists

Latvian investigators have acquired documents that reveal how prior to 13th Saeima elections Riga Tourism Development Bureau (RTDB), which receives funding from Riga’s budget, had performed at least ten money transfers to several political communication experts from Germany, Sweden and Spain, as reported by public broadcaster TV3 programme Nekā personīga.

Ukraine’s Zelensky starts presidency with dissolution of parliament

Ukraine’s new President Volodymyr Zelensky has been sworn in Kyiv on Monday and in his inaugural speech has announced the dissolution of the Ukrainian parliament.

Austria heading to snap election after right-wing coalition collapses

Austrian political leaders are favouring calling a snap election after the government coalition in Vienna collapsed over alleged influence peddling by Vice-Chancellor.

Egypt bomb attack hits tourist bus

17 tourists in Egypt have been wounded in a bomb explosion near the landmark Giza pyramids.

Latvian Railways reportedly wastes money with self-promotion in sports; UGF might be involved

Last year and at the beginning of this year, Latvian Railways spent at least two million euros on self-promotion. A considerable portion of this money was provided to sports organizations, of which multiple have ties with the Union of Greens and Farmers, as reported by public broadcaster Latvian Television programme De Facto.

In spite of heavy rains, air temperature in Latvia will reach +29° C this week

The sky will be cloudy at the beginning of this week in Latvia. Nevertheless, it will clear from time to time. As the sky clears, daytime air temperature will reach +24° C… +29° C, as reported by Latvia’s Environment, Geology and Meteorology Centre.

Week in Lithuania: PM clears no-confidence vote, top Court slaps LFGU, councillor fined for slander

Last week, Lithuania suffered upset in 2019 Eurovision Song Contest; PM Saulius Skvernelis survived a vote of no-confidence by the ruling LFGU; the Constitutional Court ruled that the Seimas breached law in dealing with public broadcaster LRT.

BNN summary of the week: shadow over Latvia's economy; Kalnmeiers receives bashing

The week passed in Latvia under certain unpleasant news. A study concluded that in spite of Union of Green and Farmers minister Dana Reizniece-Ozola’s praised tax reform the grey economy proportion in Latvia has increased.

Regional Ventas Balss newspaper’s editor punished for reporting false news

On 17 May, Riga City Vidzeme Suburb Court found Ventas Balss newspaper’s editor Gundega Mertena guilty of reporting false news in the article «Material 'Confession of Lembergs’ troll' is a 100% made-up story», which was published on portal on23 September 2018.

Court enforces 1 000 euros from Ušakovs for Riga City Council deputy

Riga City Vidzeme Suburb Court has declined suspended Mayor of Riga Nils Ušakovs plea against Riga City Council deputy Vilnis Ķirsis over supposedly offensive statements the latter made against the plaintiff.

Latvian minister proposes re-assessing prosecutor general’s professionalism

Latvia’s Justice Ministry has noticed signs that suggest Prosecutor General Ēriks Kalnmeiers is not fit to remain in his post, as there are suspicions regarding his reputation, Justice Minister Jānis Bordāns told journalists on 17 May.

Estonia’s Nordica ended 2018 with EUR 2 million in losses

Estonia’s national air carrier registered considerable losses in 2018, reaching EUR 2,3 million in unconsolidated losses.

U.S.-pardoned whistle-blower Manning sent back to prison

A United States grand jury has ordered back to confinement Chealsea Manning, the former American military intelligence analyst, who spent seven years in prison in a Wikileaks-related case before being released by the decision of former U.S.

Privatization Agency: Latvian Railways chairman is baselessly speculating about privatization

«A lot of speculations and incorrect statements containing the word ‘privatization’ are coming from Latvian Railways (LDz) board chairman Edvīns Bērziņš. He is trying to divert attention in his corporate conflict away from the company board’s relations with shareholders,» BNN was told by Privatization Agency (PA) board chairman Vladimirs Loginovs.

International police effort dismantles GozNym gang of cyber criminals

An international criminal network that used GozNym malware in an attempt to steal an estimated USD 100 million from more than 41 000 victims, mostly businesses and their financial institutions, has been dismantled in a joint police operation.

Prediction: Latvia’s new concert hall will recover investments in 15 years

In the first 15 years after construction of Latvia’s new National Acoustic Concert Hall it will earn Latvia’s national economy a total of EUR 107.6 million, fully compensating investments and creating additional profits of EUR 17.6 million.

Poland fights child abuse with prison sentences up to 30 years

Polish legislators have extended prison terms for convicted paedophiles to a maximum 30 years. The Catholic country’s child abuse scandals have been underscored by a new documentary on such crimes by Polish priests.

Money intended for child protection used instead to pay bonuses to officials in Latvia

Welfare Ministry’s allocated state budget funding of EUR 619 000 was used, among other things, to pay bonuses to officials for obvious everyday tasks even though initially it was implied that employees of the ministry and State Child Protection Inspectorate (SCPI) would perform some specific tasks to prevent child and family abuse.

Meteorologists promise air temperature will soon reach +26° C in Latvia

On Friday, 17 May, there will be plenty of sun and clouds. Western regions may experience some rainfall. Wind will draw in from the east, reaching 13 m/sec in Kurzeme, as reported by Latvia’s State Environment, Geology and Meteorology Centre.

Construction commences in Estonian-Latvian 3rd interconnection project

By raising the first supports of the new high-voltage Estonian-Latvian 3rd interconnection, Latvia’s Augstsprieguma tīkls (AST) has commenced the next step in the high-voltage power line project for a new 330 kV power line from Riga TEC-2 all the way to Kilingi-Nõmme substation in Estonia, as confirmed by AST.

Riga Tourism Development Bureau may have caused damages worth EUR 300 000

As a result of criminal activities Riga Tourism Development Bureau has caused damages worth no less than EUR 300 000, according to initial estimates.

Tribunal of European «Islamic State» fighters to be discussed in Sweden

Seeking an international tribunal of the fighters of the «Islamic State» terrorist group following its defeat in Syria, Sweden has invited other European countries to discuss ways to persecute fighters from Europe.