* Chevron wins first shale gas tender by Lithuania
* Baltic state is today 100 pct dependent on Russian gas
By Andrius Sytas
VILNIUS, Sept 3 U.S. energy major Chevron
has won a tender to explore for shale gas in western
Lithuania, the government said on its Twitter feed on Tuesday,
as the Baltic state tries to wean itself from its dependence
from Russian gas.
Chevron was the only bidder to explore for unconventional
hydrocarbons in the 1,800 square kilometre Silute-Taurage
prospect, which Lithuanian experts estimate might hold up to 80
billion cubic metres (bcm) of technically recoverable shale gas.
"It was decided to announce U.S. Chevron as winner of the
shale gas exploration tender in Lithuania," the government said
on Twitter after a meeting of the ruling coalition.
"This is the opinion of the prime minister and the whole
government after the coalition meeting," the spokeswoman for the
Prime Minister Algirdas Butkevicius told Reuters.
The Baltic state gets all its gas from neighbouring Russia
and has said Gazprom overcharges Lithuania.
The European Commission (EC) has started an investigation
into Gazprom's pricing policy in the Eastern Europe.
The latest gas market report from the EC showed Lithuania
paying the highest wholesale gas price in the European Union ().
Lithuania government plans to formalize Chevron's win later
in September, and to sign the exploration contract by the end of
this year, officials said.
Chevron will be required to agree to invest at least 80
million litas ($30.56 million) in exploration in exchange for a
"If they act quickly, they can start drilling in half a year
after the licence is granted," said Environment Minister
The government had previously postponed the decision after
public protests by local communities, who fear the chemicals
used in hydraulic fracturing could pollute underground waters.
Similar public protests in Bulgaria led to the country's
government cancelling Chevron's exploration permit for
Meanwhile, Lithuania's southern neighbour Poland has already
issued more than 100 shale gas exploration licences to local and
international firms which have drilled 48 wells to date.
While none of them has produced commercial flows so far, a
recent test in northern Poland has buoyed shale gas
The Baltic Basin in northern Poland, which also extends to
western Lithuania, is the most prospective region in Europe, the
U.S. Energy Information Administration (EIA) said in June.
The EIA estimates the Lithuanian extension to hold 0.3
billion barrels of technically recoverable shale oil and 11.3
bcm of associated shale gas, less than estimated by local
The Baltic state consumed 3.3 bcm of natural gas in 2012,
all supplied by Russia's Gazprom.
The decision on shale gas exploration comes ahead of
Butkevicius meeting in Vilnius with Gazprom's Chief Executive
Alexey Miller on Friday.
They are expected to discuss Lithuania's plans to liberalize
its gas market, affecting Gazprom's holdings in Lithuania, and
Russia's gas transit to its Kaliningrad exclave.