Estonia and Latvia don't want Gazprom linked to LNG project

RIGA Thu Feb 21, 2013 12:38pm EST

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RIGA Feb 21 (Reuters) - Gazprom-owned companies should not be involved in any Baltic liquefied natural gas (LNG) terminal because the project's aim would be to cut the region's dependence on Russian supplies, Latvia and Estonia said on Thursday.

Gas companies Gasum in Finland and Vorguteenus in Estonia - both of which are partially owned by Gazprom - inked a deal earlier this week to promote the Finnish town Inkoo for an LNG terminal and a pipeline to Paldiski in Estonia.

Both Estonia and Latvia expressed doubts about the plans on Thursday.

"Being independent of the present monopoly gas supplier is an unavoidable prerequisite for Estonia's support for the regional LNG terminal," Estonia's minister of economy and communication Juhan Parts said, according to local reports.

In neighbouring Latvia, Economy Minister Daniels Pavluts said the goal of the terminal project was to secure real alternatives to gas supplies for the region.

"With that, only those solutions can be supported that are not connected with the existing supplier of natural gas," Pavluts said in a statement to Reuters.

The Latvian ministry said that talks on the optimal location for the terminal could take place "in the near future."

The countries have not yet agreed on which LNG terminal and pipeline project to support to boost their chances of getting EU funding for the project. (Reporting By Aleks Tapinsh; Editing by Hans-Juergen Peters)

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