OSLO Feb 8 Lithuania will import more gas from
Norway than from former sole supplier Russia in 2016 after
developing infrastructure to support liquefied natural gas (LNG)
imports, the country's energy minister said on Monday.
Russia's Gazprom had enjoyed a supply monopoly
until the end of 2014, when Lithuania opened a floating LNG
import terminal to reduce energy dependence on its former Soviet
master. That allowed it to import gas from Norwegian tankers, as
well as via pipeline from Russia.
Volumes of LNG imports to Lithuania are expected to triple
this year after two new importers signed deals with Norway's
Statoil, the terminal's operator Klaipedos Nafta
said on Friday.
Lithuanian gas supplier Lietuvos Duju Tiekimas (LDT) and
privately owned nitrogen fertilizers producer Achema have agreed
to buy LNG from Norway under short-term deals.
"LDT and Achema's agreements with Statoil are clear proof
that there is real competition to Gazprom's gas in the market,"
Lithuania's Energy Minister Rokas Masiulis told Reuters in an
"Based on current plans, Statoil's market share (in
Lithuania) will increase to more than 50 percent this year," he
New deals mean that supplies via the LNG terminal will
increase to more than 1 billion cubic metres (bcm) in 2016,
while total Lithuanian demand is expected to be around 2 bcm.
LDT's long-term supply contract with Gazprom expired last
year, and the utility, which supplies gas to households, said it
had to sign a short-term deal with Statoil cover the shortage.
It has still to negotiate a new deal with Gazprom.
"Gazprom's market share in the future will depend on prices
and other commercial conditions," Masiulis said.
"There will be no political decisions on this. All decisions
on gas purchases are commercial," he added.
Klaipedos Nafta has said it expected to receive 12 tankers
until end-September compared with a previously expected four.
Statoil already had a contract with Lithuania's Litgas, which
was revised in January.
Lithuania is a small market for Gazprom, with its
consumption accounting for slightly more than 1 percent of
Russia's total gas exports to Europe.
(Reporting by Nerijus Adomaitis; Editing by Jan Harvey)