Lithuania prepares for gas switch amid Russia-Belarus spat

21st June 2010, Comments 0 comments

Lithuania said Monday it was preparing to import Russian gas via neighbouring Latvia, amid concerns over a spat between Russia and Belarus that has raised the spectre of supply disruption to Europe.

"In the event of a disruption of the gas supply through Belarus territory, we are technically prepared for a natural gas supply to Lithuania through Latvia," Sigita Petrikonyte-Jurkuniene, spokeswoman for national gas firm Lietuvos Dujos, told AFP.

"However, there is no such necessity yet as we're getting the full amount of gas so far," she noted.

The Baltic state of Lithuania currently relies entirely on Russia for its gas supplies, piped via eastern neighbour Belarus.

Russia reduced natural gas supplies to Belarus on Monday after Minsk failed to settle arrears.

Belarus transports about 20 percent of Russia's western-bound gas exports but Moscow has insisted the cut would not affect its European clients.

Petrikonyte-Jurkuniene said Russian gas giant Gazprom had told Lietuvos Dujos it would not limit deliveries to Lithuania, which is itself a transit route for gas to Russia's Baltic territory of Kaliningrad.

The European Union 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 policy makers as it left several EU countries deprived of gas during a freezing winter.

© 2010 AFP

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