Baltic electric companies, Poland talk
"The electric companies of Estonia, Latvia and Lithuania set up a working group with their Polish counterpart to look into including Poland to build a new nuclear plant in Lithuania," said officials as reported by Agence France Presse.
The day-long discussion on Tuesday January 9, 2007 was whether to include Poland into a plan to replace the ageing power facility at Ignalina in eastern Lithuania.
The Ignalina power plant has reactors similar to the ones in the ill-fated Chernobyl, Ukraine that exploded in 1986.
The talks were held at the same time as when Russia is having a energy dispute with Belarus over transit fees, which affect the oil flow to the European Union.
A year ago Russia closed off the flow of gas through Ukraine to Europe. Since Russia uses its fuel for political blackmail, all European nations see the need to become less dependent on them for fuel.
After the Warsaw conference, Sandor Liive, chairman of Eesti Energia said, "Estonia has dropped most of the reservations it had expressed last month about bringing Poland on board the nuclear construction project."
"After today's meeting we have a better knowledge of the Polish energy company and a clearer perception of the added value that Poland's participation would bring to the project," Liive said in a statement as reported.
"Definitely there are advantages in Polish participation in an already started nuclear project," Liive added.
When the three Baltic states and Poland joined the EU in 2004, Lithuania promised to shut down Ignalina by 2009. Since the new power plant will not be ready until 2015 that will leave the Baltic countries, who purchase around 80% of their power from Ignalina, to buy their energy from other nations.
Though Lithuania wanted to include Poland, with which it has been economically tied, Estonia and Latvia didn't want to include a fourth member. They realized however that involving Poland would double the investment to 5 billion euros ($ 6.5 billion US) and thus the energy production to 3,200 Megawatts, greatly reducing the electricity dependence on the Russian grid.