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Future Europe features a podcast episode from each of the EU’s 28 Member States. Each episode tells the story of a project that illuminates the way Europeans will live in the future. All the stories are told through the voices of people like Rimas Rusinas—people involved in the projects.
Lithuania gas investment a gateway to the world
Rimas Rusinas gazes out across the dark grey waters before the port city of Klaipeda towards a long concrete jetty a few hundred meters from shore. “This is the gate from the world to our country, so it’s very important,” he says.
Alongside the jetty a massive vessel is moored. The word ‘Independence’ is painted on its hull. Rusinas is the manager of the liquid natural gas (LNG) terminal in Lithuania’s main port and the concrete jetty is an essential component.
‘I am in charge of efficient, reliable, and safe operation of this terminal,’ Rusinas told the European Investment Bank’s Future Europe podcast. Gas reaches the ‘Independence’ by ship and is then pumped via the pipes contained in the jetty to the country’s national network. This vital infrastructure keeps the Baltic nation powered and heated. It also brings what industry experts call “security of supply”, because it frees Lithuania from a previous monopoly supplier. That’s key to the country’s future.
Cutting Russia dependence—and prices
The Klaipeda jetty and the LNG vessel were built in 2014, when the country faced an energy crisis. At that time, it was dependent upon Russia for its gas supplies. The prices Lithuania paid were the highest in Europe.
The ‘Independence’ can store huge amounts of liquid natural gas and convert it for supply around the country. Standing on the bridge of his ship, Captain Damagoj Miskovic says the ‘Independence’ “is basically everything. It is an LNG tanker, it’s a storage facility and it’s a factory.”
Captain Miskovic says that the vessel offered a number of advantages to building a similar onshore facility. “It’s cheaper, more cost efficient and has less of an impact upon the environment and surroundings.”
The ship offered a cheaper, cleaner and quicker alternative than building a similar onshore facility.
Investing in a pipeline to Independence
To ensure a safe, reliable and affordable supply of natural gas, Lithuania:
- built an offshore jetty including gas handling facilities
- constructed a mooring for a specially built vessel capable of storing and converting liquid natural gas
- dug and assembled 18 km of pipeline connecting the jetty to the Lithuanian gas grid
The EIB lent Klaipedos Nafta, the state-owned company responsible for the importing the gas, €73 million to get the terminal working. The terminal and the vessel, which is rented from a Norwegian company, came online at exactly the same time, ensuring a critically important supply of natural gas for the country.
EU bank backs Lithuania gas investment
Mindugas Yussus, Klaipėdos Nafta’s chief executive, told the Future Europe podcast the EIB’s involvement helped make the plan a reality.
“It was very doubtful that we could have implemented this project without the EIB’s support. First of all, financially it was a very important injection, and having such a strong financing background helped us gather the best possible services for the price.”
For the EIB, assisting Klaipėdos Nafta fulfilled its objectives for the country and the surrounding region. “This was the perfect project for EIB,” says Andrius Sokolovskis, an EIB loan officer with responsibility for the area of the Baltic Sea. “We look for projects that really make wide-scale changes. And not only Lithuania benefited from this independent supply, but also the countries around, such as Latvia and Estonia.”
Lithuania gas investment brings self-sufficiency and self-confidence
The jetty and ship have given Lithuania a reasonably priced supply of energy. But at the same time it has begun to diversify with alternative sources of power, including renewable energy. All this has helped stabilize the Lithuanian economy.
The liquid natural gas facility has also become a point of national pride. Martinas Abrozaitis, a senior engineer for Klaipėdos Nafta, is one of a team responsible for ensuring an uninterrupted and safe supply of gas. He told the Future Europe podcast that, for him, the work is more than just a job.
“Sometimes it’s dangerous for me and my colleagues. But it’s a huge and very successful project and I am very happy to be here. I think it’s very, very important not just for me not for my colleagues but for all us – for all Lithuanians.