Lithuanian Energy Minister: We could use Inčukalns gas facility

Lithuania could use the Inčukalns underground storage facility to store gas shipped to the liquefied gas terminal in Klaipeda. Accordingly, the use of the terminal and the facility should be coordinated, Lithuanian Energy Minister Rokas Masiulis told Latvian Radio Monday. 

"We consider [the Inčukalns storage facility] as a brother or a sister to our LNG terminal in Klaipeda, as you can buy gas on the international market for the lower spot price. This gas can be stored in Inčukalns and used in winter," Masiulis told Latvian Radio.

Lithuania is already storing strategically important reserves in the facility. The minister also sees possible co-op with the Klaipēda terminal on economic terms.

"If we would know that Inčukalns is open to us, our trade experts would follow the market day-by-day, looking for offers with good prices," said the Lithuanian Energy Minister, adding that even though storing gas at Inčukalns would add to the price, it would still remain low enough to be attractive.

He said that up until now Latvia's energy utility Latvijas Gāze has been rather protective of the storage facility, keeping others away from it.

"However if the state starts controlling it we will definitely find a use for [the storage facility]," he said.

Commenting on the upcoming liberalization of Latvia's gas market and the gas utility's efforts to delay parts of the process, Masiulis said that "In Lithuania the gas company fought back similarly, as monopolists always do." 

"However the way Latvia approached the matter was convincing, levelheaded, and farsighted, and we were impressed," said Masiulis. 

In October 2015 Latvia and Lithuania signed a joint gas infrastructure memorandum over coordinated gas purchases.

In February this year Latvia adopted historic law amendments to support liberalization of the gas market, as well as rules on breaking up the Latvijas Gāze utility into two companies – one for operating the gas transmission and storage system and the other for dealing with natural gas distribution and sale – by April 3, 2017.

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