Poland-Lithuania pipeline of 'utmost importance' says PM

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Prime Minister Laimdota Straujuma said Thursday plans for a gas pipeline between Lithuania and Poland were essential to help end the Baltic states' status as as an "energy island" within the European Union. 

“The decision on the funding for the regional interconnection gas pipeline Poland-Lithuania, and on the implementation of the project is of the utmost importance for Latvia," Straujuma said in a press release. 

"This project will end Latvia's energy dependence and create a viable alternative for gas supplies," Straujuma said.

"Latvia is currently an 'energy island'; we have access to only one gas pipeline and the regional interconnection is the only real solution that will ensure energy independence," Economy Minister Vjačeslavs Dombrovskis added. 

With Russia's increasingly belligerent attitude towards its neighbors and the possibility the Kremlin will - not for the first time - turn off supplies in a strategic manner to put pressure on the EU, alternative sources of supply have become a pressing matter.

In the summer the Agency for the Cooperation of Energy Regulators (ACER) adopted a decision on the distribution of costs among the participating states for the construction of an alternative gas pipeline through Poland and Lithuania. 

Other projects, including a third connection between Latvia and Estonia and the modernization of the huge Inčukalns gas storage facility outside Riga are also hoping to receive substantial EU funding.

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