November 29, 2010 / 5:59 PM / 9 years ago

Lithuania to unbundle gas sector despite Moscow ire

VILNIUS, Nov 29 (Reuters) - Lithuania’s government said on Monday it will go ahead with a plan to separate the country’s gas transportation and supply assets in line with EU policy, despite protests from Moscow.

Russian pipeline gas export monopoly Gazprom (GAZP.MM) holds 37.1 percent and German company E.ON Ruhrgas (EONGn.DE) has 38.9 percent of Lithuanian utility Lietuvos Dujos LDJ1L.VL, while the state owns 17.7 percent.

Russian Prime Minister Vladimir Putin on Friday criticised European Union laws aimed at liberalising the continent’s energy market, saying they hinder investment and amount to uncivilised “robbery”. [ID:nLDE6AP11O]

Putin cited Lithuania, where Gazprom and E.ON have warned of supply disruptions in a row over the EU regulations. [ID:nLDE68J1FK]

“Lithuania’s government has been determined to implement and is implementing the Third (Energy) Package, and is working on a legal basis to separate management and ownership of (gas) pipelines and to create a gas market,” the government said in a statement on its web site.

The statement said cabinet members had agreed on draft laws on the gas sector on Monday, but officials later told Reuters the legislation had yet to be approved formally by the government. The parliament will also have to vote on the bill.

The EU agreed in March 2009 to liberalise energy markets by splitting giant utilities, ensuring that small gas suppliers can get unhindered access to European infrastructure and compete on an equal footing with the dominant players. [ID:nLDE6AO0C3]

Russia remains Lithuania’s sole natural gas supply source, but the Baltic state said recently it wanted to build a liquefied natural gas terminal to diversify supply. (Reporting by Nerijus Adomaitis, editing by Anthony Barker)

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