Baltic States 'Working Closely Together' to Prepare for Russian Gas Cut

(Reuters) — Energy companies and governments in the Baltic states are cooperating to prepare for a possible cut in Russian natural gas supplies amid tensions over Ukraine and concerns about gas supplies to Europe.

Recovery of a tunnel-boring machine in Denmark during Baltic Pipe construction (photo: Baltic Pipe Project)

Russia is Europe's biggest provider of natural gas, and Western countries are worried that already strained supplies could be interrupted in the event of a conflict between Russia and NATO over Ukraine.

"Our institutions and companies are working closely together to prepare, at operational level, for surprises which would happen if gas supply would be used as a means of pressure against the European Union", Lithuanian Prime Minister Ingrida Simonyte told a news conference in Riga after meeting her Latvian and Estonian counterparts.

Once ruled from Moscow but now part of NATO and the EU, the region gets its pipeline natural gas from Russia and imports LNG from a terminal in Lithuania that was inaugurated in 2014.

A gas pipeline link between Lithuania and Poland is due to come online in mid-2022, giving the region access to continental gas pipelines and more energy sources.

If the Russian gas supply gets interrupted, the Baltic states will rely on the Lithuanian LNG import terminal and a Latvian gas storage, Latvian Prime Minister Krisjanis Karins said at the news conference.

"We are in a better shape than many European states", said Karins, adding that the storage reserves are "in a good state" due to a warm winter.

U.S. policymakers are reportedly hunting around the world for alternative sources of gas in the event that a conflict over Ukraine interrupts pipeline supplies to Europe.

A Russian vessel which acts as an import facility for LNG moored in Russia's Kaliningrad on Jan. 26, giving the enclave's gas-fired power plants an alternative supply route if gas from Lithuania is interrupted

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