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Baltic States Cut Energy Imports from Russia, Belarus

Lithuania’s electricity transmission system operator Litgrid has said it would slash threefold its electricity imports from Belarus as a step toward abandoning electricity intake from Russia and Belarus by 2025 and joining the European Union’s (EU) energy system.

Litgrid is reducing the maximum electricity import capacity from 1,250 megawatts (MW) to 400 MW as of September 15, the Interfax news agency reported on Tuesday, citing information that Litgrid had sent to the operators of the so-called BRELL energy grid, which includes Belarus, Russia, Estonia, Lithuania, and Latvia.

Due to the reduced transmission capacity, Lithuania will now be significantly cutting commercial electricity imports from Belarus and Russia via the grid from Soviet times.

The three Baltic States – Lithuania, Latvia, and Estonia – joined the European Union in 2004. However, their electricity grids continue to be synchronized with those of Russia and Belarus.

In June 2018, Lithuania, Latvia, and Estonia agreed with Poland to synchronize the Baltic States’ electricity grid with the continental European network by 2025.

“Lithuania, Latvia and Estonia have always considered their dependence on Moscow as a threat, and their concerns have increased since the crisis in Ukraine. However, cutting this “umbilical cord” has been an uphill struggle,” the European Commission said in 2018.

Lithuania, Latvia and Estonia, alongside Poland, are also the most vocal critics of the Gazprom-led natural gas pipeline project Nord Stream 2 in the EU.

The United States, several European countries including Poland and the Baltic states, as well as the European Union, have expressed concern about Russia using gas sales and its gas monopoly Gazprom as a political tool, seeing Nord Stream 2 as further undermining Europe’s energy security by giving Gazprom another pipeline to ship its natural gas to European markets.

Most recently, despite a strong rebound in European natural gas demand, Gazprom didn’t book additional entry capacity to Europe via Ukraine—a move that Ukraine’s gas transmission system operator described last week as “blackmail.”  

By Tsvetana Paraskova for Oilprice.com

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