“I think Gazprom has what to be afraid of. Our goal is to ensure as low as possible prices of gas for our consumers and to protect the country’s energy independence, to ensure energy security at the same time. We have built a [LNG] terminal and are already in a position to hold talks with anyone. This makes sure that we get the best price – either it is Gazprom’s gas or liquefied gas,” Rokas Masiulis told the LRT Radio on Friday.
If needed, Lithuania would be able to survive without Russian gas, he said, adding that it was not necessary to extend the contract with Gazprom.
“Everything will depend on terms and conditions and we’ll look now who would be the one to offer the best terms and conditions… We can fully manage without Gazprom, in particular as the consumption of gas is decreasing,” the minister said.
According to Masiulis, the EU is in a position to further reduce the consumption of gas, which would deal a blow to the Russian gas concern.
“The European Union has a particularly effective weapon against Gazprom, which has not yet been fully used, and I mean energy efficiency. It has been estimated that the EU could reduce the consumption of gas by approximately 60 percent if it wanted to and diverted its investment towards more efficient energy use. Just imagine, if the whole Europe were to reduce its consumption by 60 percent, it would be a huge blow to Gazprom,” the minister said.
He said that he expected the Stockholm arbitration court to rule on Lithuania’s 1.5-billion-euro lawsuit against Gazprom late this year or early next year.
“This case should be heard this summer and we are expecting the decision either late this year or early next year. The amount involved is really quite big – 1.5 billion euros,” Masiulis said.
The Lithuanian government is seeking compensation from Gazprom for overcharging Lithuanian gas consumers for gas supplies between 2004 and 2012. The Stockholm arbitration proceedings were initiated by the previous government in 2012.
In an apparent attempt to influence the Stockholm arbitration tribunal and, possibly, appease EU regulators, Gazprom last May cut the price of natural gas supplies to Lietuvos Dujos (Lithuanian Gas) by 21 percent.
The European Commission is said to be readying charges against Gazprom after a two-year investigation into the Russian group’s allegedly unfair pricing practices in Lithuania and other Eastern European countries.