EU Oks Lithuania's New Terminal Leasing Scheme
The European Commission has approved Lithuania's plans to refinance the leasing costs of the LNG import terminal at Klaipeda, it said September 19.
Under a 2013 EC decision, the leasing costs of the LNG terminal were exclusively financed through a fee payable by all Lithuanian gas consumers: the so-called “LNG supplement”. To reduce the financial burden on consumers, Lithuania now seeks to replace part of it with a €135mn loan secured by the government, for which it needs approval. The loan will cover part of the leasing costs of the terminal throughout 2019-2024.
In 2013 the EC found the supplement was necessary to ensure security of gas supply in Lithuania and the change also is compatible with the internal market and state aid rules.
The Lithuanian energy ministry said the EC decision will allow reductions in the order of €23-25mn/yr. “The EC decision confirms our proper option for Lithuania’s long-term LNG strategy in which the Klaipeda LNG terminal... plays a significant role in our energy security and in ensuring a competitive gas price now and after 2024,” said minister Zygimantas Vaiciunas.
In December, Lithuanian legislature decided that Lithuania would ensure long-term LNG supply beyond 2024 by acquiring the FSRU Independence from Hoegh. With the decision in place, terminal maintenance costs are expected to fall by €23mn – down from €66mn in 2019 to €43mn beyond 2024.
Last week, the EU General Court rejected an appeal by Achema, a Lithuanian fertiliser producer which is the single largest industrialist gas consumer in the Baltics, over state aid for the Klaipeda LNG terminal. Achema pays about €20mn/yr.
In late 2013, the EC ruled that a total of €448mn of state assistance to the LNG terminal project would not breach competition. The aim was to provide Lithuania with an alternative to Russian gas.