“For Norway, oil and gas are commercial areas, and as ambassador my involvement has been to promote our business interests.” says Ambassador Ulland. “But at the same time Norway, just as the EU, supports Lithuania and the Baltic countries in their wish to achieve energy independence. It is normal to have competition and be able to choose when you want to buy something.”
Norwegian companies, such as Höegh LNG and Statoil, are well known in the energy markets and have amassed a wealth of experience in the LNG field. “It is not very surprising that they won tough international tenders to build the LNG terminal and supply LNG to Lithuania,” says Norway’s ambassador.
“With Independence on its way to Klaipėda and Statoil-LITGAS contract expected soon on the LNG deliveries, I feel we can say that Norway and Lithuania have reached a new phase in cooperation in the energy field and it has been a great joy to contribute to this.”
It is never an easy ride when one competes at this level, says Ulland. “Negotiations were tough. Also what Lithuania does in this area is to introduce competition and challenge a monopoly. This means affecting the vested interests of people and companies, and that is never easy.”
Once Independence has docked at Klaipėda, the challenge is to make it into a successful energy project. “I believe the opportunities will be greater than the challenges,” says Ambassador Ulland.
He thinks that Lithuania is doing a decent job in pursuit of energy independence.
The government of Lithuania pursues the policy of energy independence along several avenues and with the ultimate aim to have stable and lowest possible energy prices and reliable energy supply.
The LNG project is one of them. The others are power links with Sweden and Scandinavia (the NordBalt cable), energy links to Poland (LitPol Link), a new nuclear power plant in Visaginas and development of renewable energy sources.
“It is not my role as ambassador to give grades as to how this policy is developing,” Ulland says. “I note that it is pursued by government and president with great vigour and determination and that the general policy has EU support and wide national support.”
Altough the nuclear power plant projetc seems to have hit the rocks lately, other projects are moving forward. “By the end of next year, with the LNG terminal in place and with the opening of the NordBalt cable to Sweden, Lithuania‘s energy dependence will have been greatly reduced,” Norway’s ambassador believes. “That will bring energy independence to a new stage. Already we see how the LNG capacity has influenced the price Lithuania pays for gas and the ownership of gas companies in Lithuania.”