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Friday, April 18, 2008

Lithuanian Prime Minister calls Russia's energy plans PR campaign

Lithuanian Prime Minister Gediminas Kirkilas said Friday he is convinced that Russia's plans to build a new nuclear power plant in the region was a public relations stunt.

The public relations campaign illustrates Russia's dissatisfaction with the plans for a new nuclear power plant to be built in Lithuania, Kirkilas was quoted by the Baltic News Service (BNS).

Kirkilas' comments come two days after Sergei Kirienko announced that Russia would build a new 5-billion-euro (8 billion dollar) nuclear power plant in the Russian enclave of Kaliningrad by 2015.

'We are ready to offer foreign partners, primarily European ones, up to 49 per cent in the Kaliningrad Nuclear Power Plant,' Kiriyenko said. He added the power plant would be capable of producing 2300 MW, far exceeding what the enclave would need.

'If this strategic decision was really made by Russia, I think, that this is a serious checkmate for Lithuania. Such a little region certainly doesn't need two nuclear power plants,' Lithuanian political scientist Ceslovas Laurinavicius told BNS.

Lithuania and its Baltic neighbours, Latvia and Estonia, have been wrestling over the future of their energy supplies in anticipation of electrical shortage when the Ignalina nuclear power plant in Lithuania shuts down in 2009 as demanded by the European Union.

Mostly isolated from the EU energy networks, the Baltic countries would have to look to Russia as their main energy supplier amidst fears the Kremlin may use its economic foothold in the former Soviet republics for political gain.

The Baltics already have the electrical infrastructure with Russia in place, a remnant of the former Soviet Union system. Building new links is expensive and time-consuming.

Also years away is a replacement nuclear power plant for Ignalina, which the EU wants to shut down next year because it is deemed unsafe.

The three countries and Poland's push for new nuclear power station have been ridden with delays. Officials still say the nuclear power plant is likely to be completed by 2015, however energy experts say it's likely to be completed by 2020.

Lithuania's parliamentary elections in October are unlikely to force the government to make any decisions on this issue.

Instead, Lithuania which spearheads the efforts to replace the existing power plant, turned to Brussels to extend Ignalina's life, frustrating officials in Estonia and Latvia.

(Source: M&C)


Alexandra Prokopenko said...

One more angle on the Ignalina closure and perspective of a new Russian plant in Kaliningrad region.

Anonymous said...

Wow 2300 MW for the Russia plant is a lot bigger then it first sounded.

If I was the Russians I'd just go for it, the Euros will likely still be debating whether to build a plant in 2015. And by then the Russian plant could be operational.

Another interesting thing is from reading I thought this generation of nuclear plants was between GE's plant, Areva's EPR and Toshiba's APR. But the Russians appear to be selling a number of the VVER's.. and then there is China's CPR 1000 which looks to have a bunch to be built in China.


Alexandra Prokopenko said...

The current Russian nuclear development strategy actually involves a lot of construction activities on their territory, and I will not be surprised to find out that the Kaliningrad region will get a plant pretty soon. This piece of land is like a locked island surrounded by the "Schengen wall", and it for sure needs more energetic independence with the ability to export. This region has currently a big problem with unemployment, and the plant of such size might kill two rabbits by one bullet - solve energy problems and bring more well-paid jobs for the locals.