Coalition united on no more Russian gas, says Latvian PM

There is a consensus among the ruling coalition that Latvia should give up supplies of Russian natural gas as soon as possible, LSM's Latvian-language service reported April 4. 

Speaking after the regular coalition meeting April 4 ahead fo a cabinet meeting April 5, Prime Minister Krišjānis Kariņš ("New Unity") said that Latvia will give up the supply of Russian natural gas regardless of what other countries and the European Union (EU) decide on the matter.

Following Russian atrocities in Ukraine, pressure is building for a full European Union embargo on Russian gas supplies, though some countries remain reluctant to impact their economies for the sake of a principled stand.

The Ministry of Economics (MoE) responsible for the energy sector has been instructed to draw up a report with solutions on how Latvia could refuse supplies of Russian natural gas. It is planned that the scenarios developed by the MoE will be submitted to the coalition for evaluation next week.

No gas from Russia has flowed to Latvia, Estonia or Lithuania in April, with the Russian supplier Gazprom demanding to be paid in rubles. 

Lithuania has already made a decision to completely abandon Russian gas supplies, and while Latvian politicians have expressed similar sentiments, gas trader Latvijas Gāze – which is half owned by Russian energy companies including Gazprom – has muddied the waters by announcing that it sees no reason why it cannot pay for gas in rubles.

Economics Minister Jānis Vitenbergs (National Association) is currently visiting the United States to meet with potential investors in a regional liquefied natural gas terminal. After this visit, it will also be possible to understand the way forward in strengthening energy independence, the Prime Minister said.

The Ministry of Agriculture will shortly issue a report on how to deal with the availability of wood chips for fuel in the next heating season. The forthcoming MoE report iis likely to suggest that if Latvijas Gāze cannot provide the necessary natural gas reserves, the second largest natural gas trader, Latvenergo, could replace it.

 

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