Gazprom threat over EU gas reform surprises Lithuania
VILNIUS LITHUANIA questioned on Thursday a threat by Russian giant Gazprom to take it to international arbitration over an EU-piloted gas market reform, just days after high-level talks.
“We are surprised because only three days ago all parties described as positive talks held in Vilnius and the agreements reached there”, Lithuanian energy ministry spokesman Kestutis Jauniskis said.
In a statement on Thursday, Gazprom, which is Lithuania’s sole gas supplier, said it had been “compelled to present the international arbitration court with a complaint against the government of Lithuania to protect its investments in Lithuania”.
The threat came after a a closed-door meeting on Monday attended by Lithuanian Prime Minister Andrius Kubilius, Gazprom export chief Alexander Medvedev and Philip Lowe, the European Commission’s director-general for energy.
The talks focused on Lithuania’s drive to implement new rules from the European Commission — the executive body of the 27- nation European Union — on “unbundling” by the end of 2014.
The EU competition measures bar suppliers from also running a country’s gasmains system.
That marks a direct challenge to Gazprom which, in addition to being Lithuania’s lone supplier, owns a 37.1-percent stake in the Baltic state’s gas-mains company Lietuvos Dujos.
The parties did not disclose the deal reached on Monday but Jauniskis said the government has already taken steps to implement it.
In the Gazprom statement, Medvedev said: “Gazprom expresses hope that the agreements reached on February 27 will be fulfilled by the shareholder meeting of Lietuvos Dujos which will allow us to avoid arbitration proceedings”.
A nation of three million, Lithuania is seeking to cut its energy dependence on Russia, a legacy of its five decades as a Soviet republic before the communist bloc collapsed in 1991.
Vilnius, which joined NATO and the EU in 2004, has rocky ties with Moscow.