Lithuania halts Russian gas imports and calls on the EU to do the same

VILNIUS, Lithuania (AP) – Lithuania says it has completely cut itself off from gas imports from Russia and appears to be the first of the 27 European Union countries to use Russian gas to break its energy dependency on Moscow.

“In pursuit of complete energy independence from Russian gas, Lithuania has completely abandoned Russian gas in response to Russia’s energy blackmail in Europe and the war in Ukraine,” Lithuania’s Energy Ministry said in a statement late Saturday, adding that the measure has been in place since the beginning effective was April.

Lithuania managed to cut imports of Russian gas to zero on Saturday, a step seen as a milestone in achieving energy independence in the former Soviet republic of 2.8 million people, the ministry said.

“We are the first EU country among Gazprom’s suppliers to become independent of Russian gas supplies, and this is the result of several years of coherent energy policy and timely infrastructure decisions,” said Energy Minister Dainius Kreivys.

Lithuanian President Gitanas Nauseda posted an upbeat tweet on his account and urged other European nations to do the same.

“From this month — no more Russian gas in Lithuania. Years ago, my country made choices that today allow us to sever energy links with the aggressor without pain. If we can do it, so can the rest of Europe!” Nauseda tweeted.

In 2015, almost 100% of Lithuania’s gas supplies came from Russian gas imports, but the situation has changed drastically in recent years after the country built an offshore LNG import terminal in the port city of Klaipeda in 2014.

The Ministry of Energy announced that from now on all gas for Lithuanian domestic consumption will be imported through the Klaipeda LNG terminal.

Last year, about 26% of Lithuania’s gas supplies came from supplies from a Russian gas pipeline, while 62% came via Klaipeda’s LNG terminal and the remaining 12% was imported from a gas storage facility in neighboring Latvia.

Baltic neighbors Latvia and Estonia are also heavily dependent on Russian gas, but the operator of Latvia’s natural gas storage facility said none of the three Baltic states imported Russian gas as of April 2.

Uldis Bariss, the CEO of Conexus Baltic Grid, told Latvian media on Saturday that the Baltic gas market is currently being served by gas reserves stored underground in Latvia.

Last month, Lithuanian Prime Minister Ingrida Simonyte said Klaipeda’s LNG terminal did not have enough capacity to supply gas to all three Baltic countries.

As a solution, the Estonian government has proposed building an LNG terminal together with Latvia and its Nordic neighbor Finland in the Estonian port city of Paldiski, not far from the capital Tallinn.


Jari Tanner in Helsinki, Finland contributed to this report


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