Lithuania's gas supply from Belarus back to normal: firm
Lithuania's supply of Russian gas via Belarus was back to normal Thursday, the Baltic state's national gas firm said in a statement, as Moscow and Minsk moved to settle a payment row.
"Natural gas imports into Lithuania have been fully restored," its gas transport and supply company Lietuvos Dujos said.
"Gas supplies to Lithuanian consumers and transit to the Kaliningrad region continue to be available without restriction," it said.
Supplies of Russian gas via Belarus into Lithuania -- which is itself a transit route for gas to Russia's Baltic territory of Kaliningrad -- had fallen by more than 40 percent on Wednesday according to the company.
Russia had earlier cut shipments to Belarus by 60 percent amid a payment feud with its ex-Soviet neighbour, sparking concerns in Lithuania which relies entirely on Russia for its gas.
The European Union blasted the shortfall in supplies to Lithuania, a former Soviet-ruled republic which joined the bloc in 2004.
On Thursday, however, Moscow and Minsk said they had settled the wrangling over Russian transit payments to Belarus and the latter's gas debt.
The EU closely watches gas disputes between Russia and its ex-Soviet neighbours after a row between Moscow and Kiev led to supplies of Russian gas to Europe via Ukraine being cut off for two weeks early last year.
That dispute remains firmly etched in the minds of European policymakers as it left several EU countries deprived of gas during a harsh winter.
Lithuania had been bracing to draw on supplies from neighbouring Latvia.
Lietuvos Dujos had also warned that it could be forced to reduce onward gas supplies to Kaliningrad in the event that Lithuanian customers faced a shortfall.
Former communist countries in the EU which count on Russian gas have repeatedly pushed for the 27-nation bloc to come up with a joint energy policy, a point hammered home by Lithuanian President Dalia Grybauskaite on Wednesday.
Lithuania also said that it hoped the latest crisis would drive forward plans for a gas link with Poland which would enable it to diversify its supplies.
© 2010 AFP