Lithuania joins Polish court case concerning Nord Stream
Lithuania has joined with Poland in demanding that the European Commission revoke permission for Russian Gazprom to increase the amount of gas it ships on a branch gas pipeline in Germany fed by the Nord Stream export pipeline, Lithuanian Energy Minister Aurelija Vernickaite told the BNS on Thursday.
Lithuania, which advocates increased competition on the European gas market, believes the European Commission's decision "increases energy reliance on Gazprom. Moreover, this might entail negative consequences for Ukraine, since it reduces the flow of transit gas through that country," she said.
Vernickaite pointed out that last week the Lithuanian authorities confirmed participation in the lawsuit over the OPAL gas pipeline in European Court.
The European Commission raised Gazprom's quota on the OPAL pipeline in eastern Germany last fall. The decision was criticized because it might reduce gas transit through Poland and Ukraine.
Lithuania's participation can be interpreted as a show of political support for Warsaw: although Lithuanian specialists will present their arguments in court, the Polish government will continue to be the lead plaintiff.
On Thursday, Lithuanian Prime Minister Saulius Skvernelis said in Kyiv that Ukraine should remain the main transit country for Russian gas exports to Europe. "We support your effort to remain a transit country. Ukraine should remain an important transit route to Europe in future. We have decided to support the Polish side in the court proceedings on Nord Stream 2,' Skvernelis said during a joint press conference held by the prime ministers of the Baltic States and Ukraine.
This year, Lithuania will purchase just over half of the gas it consumes from Gazprom.
The Polish government filed suit in European Court on December 16 contesting the European Commission's decision on October 28, 2016 to approve an agreement concerning use of the OPAL pipeline between Gazprom, Gazprom Export LLC, OPAL Gastransport GmbH and the German regulator Bundesnetzagentur.
During an interview with Rossiya 24 television, Russian Energy Minister Alexander Novak commented on Warsaw's complaint: "These are unwarranted statements. Because for us, the gas pipeline through Poland is the most economically effective route, the shortest one. Construction of an additional gas pipeline was even proposed. But Poland refused. That is why we don't understand the essence of these statements, if we are expanding our infrastructure and Poland earlier refused to develop the infrastructure through its territory."