June 23, 2011 / 2:00 PM / 8 years ago

Westinghouse eyes stake in new Lithuanian nuclear plant

VILNIUS (Reuters) - Westinghouse Electric Company, the United States-based arm of Japan’s Toshiba Corp, said on Thursday it was ready to take a stake in a new Lithuanian nuclear power plant.

Lithuania has said it could offer the strategic investor up to 51 percent of the new plant it wants to come online by 2020, with the rest shared between the Baltic state and its regional partners.

Anders Jackson, Westinghouse president for Europe, Middle East and Africa, said the government’s backing for the project showed how important it was for the Baltic region.

“That is matched by our own commitment to be a shareholder and partner to ensure its success,” he told reporters after meeting with Lithuania Prime Minister Andrius Kubilius.

“Indeed, Westinghouse is so confident that this project will be successful that we are investing in it ourselves,” he added.

Kubilius has repeatedly said that Lithuania was looking for both the investor and the technology supplier, as well as “competitive electricity price.”

Westinghouse said it has offered its latest AP-1000 reactor, which still has to receive the final approval in the U.S., which is expected later in 2011, the company said.

The meeting in Vilnius follows last week government’s meeting with Japan’s Hitachi and Hitachi GE Nuclear Energy, who had presented a competing bid.

Lithuania wants to build a new nuclear power plant to cut energy dependence on neighboring Russia, the sole supplier of natural gas, after shutting its Soviet-era Ignalina nuclear plant in 2009 under agreement with the European Union.

Lithuanian officials earlier estimated the project to cost some 3-4 billion euro.

Reporting by Nerijus Adomaitis; editing by James Jukwey

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