Lithuania said it had signed a 10-year-deal with Russian energy giant Gazprom
Vilnius - AFP
Lithuania said Monday it had signed a 10-year-deal with Russian energy giant Gazprom to transport gas to Kaliningrad in a move likely to soothe the Kremlin's concerns over its westernmost outpost's energy security.
The Baltic EU state's gas transmission system operator Amber Grid said it would charge 10-11 million euros ($11-12 million) to transport 2.5 billion cubic meters of gas per year from mainland Russia to Kaliningrad.
The new agreement, signed on December 24, will be valid until the end of 2025 and is "comparable" to the existing contract which ends this year, it said in a statement.
A pipeline that runs through Belarus and Lithuania is the only route to transport gas from mainland Russia to Kaliningrad, the small, heavily militarised region along the Baltic coast wedged between Poland and Lithuania.
Dependence on Lithuania for the transit of natural gas to Kaliningrad had sparked concern in Russia amid heightened east-west tensions over Ukraine.
"Russian institutions had publicly expressed concern over gas transit to Kaliningrad," said Ramunas Vilpisauskas, director of the Institute of International Relations and Political Science in Vilnius.
"This contract may speed up agreement over natural gas purchase for Lithuania, or at least bring more clarity in this issue," he told AFP.
Lithuania retook full control of its gas pipelines when Gazprom sold its stakes in the EU state's gas distribution companies last year.
It also broke a Russian monopoly on gas deliveries in January by launching its first floating LNG terminal on Baltic Sea coast, although Gazprom remains a key supplier and talks on new contract are underway.