C O N F I D E N T I A L VILNIUS 000231
E.O. 12958: DECL: 04/27/2019
TAGS: ENRG PREL LH
SUBJECT: LITHUANIA PLEASED WITH OUTCOME OF BALTIC ENERGY
MEETING; PLANS TO MOVE FAST ON SWEDLINK
REF: STATE 38591
Classified By: Charge d'affaires a.i. Damian R. Leader for reasons 1.4
(b) and (d).
Â¶1. (C) Prime Minister Kubilius was happy with the results of
the April 26-27 meeting of Baltic prime ministers on energy,
according to his advisor Loreta Zakareviciene, who spoke with
us April 28. She acknowledged that the declaration, signed
by Lithuanian, Latvian, and Estonian PMs (e-mailed to
EUR/NB), focuses primarily on creation of the Swedlink
electrical link and says little about electrical links with
Poland or plans for the Visaginas Nuclear Power Plant but
emphasized that the meeting was first and foremost about
Swedlink. Zakareviciene added that the only unhappy
participants in the meeting were from Latvenergo; alleging
that because of the strong Russian influence over them and
other Latvian energy countries, they saw it as against their
interest to promote projects that will lessen the Baltics'
dependence on Russian energy supply. In contrast, she said
DG TREN Matthias Ruete was "very happy" with the outcome.
Â¶2. (C) The declaration clearly states that Swedlink's eastern
terminus will be in Lithuania, finally ending the tussle
between Lithuania and Latvia on this point. In exchange, it
prescribes that the Swedlink project will be "trilateral"
(Sweden-Lithuania-Latvia, on equal terms), with
non-discriminatory access to the grid. It also calls for
shared allocation of the 175 million EUR to be granted by the
European Commission for the project. According to
Zakareviciene, the precise allocation of these funds is yet
to be determined, but the Latvians are seeking 68 million EUR
for development of their western transmission grid. The
agreement also outlines steps for creating a common Baltic
electricity market with the aim of someday integrating it
into the Nordic countries' Nord Pool.
Â¶3. (C) Zakareviciene expressed her fervent hope that seabed
mapping critical to the Swedlink project could be done this
summer so that construction could begin quickly and be
completed as early as 2013. She admitted this was ambitious,
but said, "where there's a will, there's a way."
Â¶4. (C) On the issue of building a new nuclear power plant,
Zakareviciene said the topic was discussed. She mentioned
the GOL's plans to hire a consultant that will be able to
identify an appropriate strategic investor for the project
(septel). She added that "the four prime ministers" would
need to meet "soon" to discuss next steps.
Â¶5. (C) Comment: The GOL has for too long tried to focus on
too many energy projects at once, resulting in not enough
focus on any one. It has not lost sight of its plans for a
new nuclear plant and a power bridge with Poland, but is
throwing its weight behind a project that has both the
financial and international support that make it credibly
possible in the near term. If it can get this project off
the ground, it will be on its way toward some measure of
energy independence for the Balts, and might renew some
confidence among its neighbors that it is capable of tackling
bigger projects as well.