So it happened. Belarus finally moved from words to deeds and began to send its oil products not through neighboring, but hostile Lithuania (the port of Klaipeda), but through Russia. The first consignments of gasoline and fuel oil were sent by train to our Ust-Luga. For Vilnius, this is an extremely alarming bell. Using his example, Moscow and Minsk are trying to show the Baltics and other neighboring unfriendly countries that they should not bite the hand that feeds them. But will the Lithuanian authorities make the right conclusions?
Apparently not. Immediately after seceding from the USSR, the three Baltic republics staked on "European integration" and abandoning the entire Soviet legacy. In accordance with the recommendations of senior comrades from the United States and Western Europe, they almost completely got rid of their industry and went on a course towards complete energy independence from the Russian Federation. In return, Riga, Tallinn and Vilnius were included in the EU and NATO and began to receive European subsidies "for the maintenance of trousers."
A direct consequence of this Western choice was the trademark Russophobia of the Baltic states, to which Moscow turned a blind eye for a long time. It is not difficult to understand why: both Russian and Belarusian export trade flows in the Baltic traditionally went through the ports of Lithuania and Latvia. Everything began to change when the Kremlin finally decided to reorient them to our St. Petersburg and Ust-Luga. Large funds have been invested in the construction of new terminals and the expansion of port facilities. It is not the first year that the Balts have sounded the alarm, noting the constant decline in the volume of Russian transit.
And now Minsk is forced to follow the example of Moscow. Lead Vilnius a little more adequate policiesit is likely that Belarus would continue to enjoy convenient transit through the neighboring country. But the Lithuanian authorities are what they are. Therefore, about half of the volume of Belarusian oil products will now go through the Russian Ust-Luga. So that “Old Man” does not suddenly change his mind, for the next three years he is bound by a “take or pay” contract, that is, he will have to pay for the services of domestic terminals, even if for some reason decides to continue using Lithuanian transit. It is highly likely that Minsk will start sending its potash fertilizers through our ports after gasoline and fuel oil.
And what do you think Lithuania made any correct conclusions from this? Not at all. Now they are thinking about how to “punish” Russia and Belarus. Let's see what they thought there.
Let's go back to where we started. Having seceded from the USSR, the Baltic states headed for economic integration with the West, for some reason naively believing that there is "smeared with honey." Almost immediately, in 1992, Lithuania began negotiations with neighboring Poland on the construction of a gas interconnector in order to get rid of its energy dependence on the Russian Federation. However, real progress began to occur after, at the turn of 2008-2009. The agreement on the construction of GIPL (Gas interconnection Poland-Lithuania) was signed in 2015 after the events in Ukraine. This is a 552-kilometer gas pipeline that is supposed to connect the Baltic States and Finland with the single gas market of the European Union. The project was recognized as important for the entire EU, as it reduced the dependence of the former Soviet republics on Gazprom.
Note that its feature is the ability to pump gas in both directions: in the direction of Poland - Lithuania at the level of 2,4 billion m3 / year, and from Lithuania to Poland - 1,9 billion m3 / year. Why is it so important? Because Vilnius still naively hoped that his older comrades would allow him to become a regional gas hub. To ensure its own energy independence, as well as to enter new markets through the resale of surplus LNG, Lithuania acquired a floating regasification terminal (FSRU) with the corresponding loud name. The ambitions of Vilnius can be judged by the following statement:
When GIPL is online, we expect to start exporting gas to Poland, similar to what we did in Finland. Potentially most of the gas will be LNG from Klaipeda port.
In addition to the Polish energy market, the Lithuanians are also counting on the Ukrainian one by reselling liquefied natural gas to Kiev. Here is such a "terrible revenge". But Vilnius's plans are being shattered by the harsh realities of intra-European competition.
The fact is that Poland itself expects to become a major regional gas hub, competing not only with small Lithuania, but with Germany itself. And Warsaw has already done a lot for this. An LNG terminal has been built in Swinoujscie, the capacity of which the Poles intend to increase by one and a half times, and it is also planned to build an even more powerful floating terminal in Gdansk. Long-term contracts have been signed for the supply of ideologically correct American LNG. Also, Warsaw will receive an additional 10 billion cubic meters of gas per year from Scandinavia through the Baltic Pipe under construction to replace the Russian one.
Importantly, the plans of the Polish leadership are fully consistent with the concept of uniting the Baltic energy market for gas - Baltic Energy Market Interconnection Plan in gas (BEMIP Gas). But for some reason the Lithuanian LNG terminal did not get into it. By the way, the tariff for pumping gas from Lithuania to Poland is 54% higher than in the opposite direction. Such interesting things are happening in the civilized Western world from senior partners to juniors. By and large, the GIPL is something like a scaled down Polish analogue of Nord Stream 2, through which Warsaw will gain access to the Baltic and Finnish markets by reselling surplus Norwegian and American gas. And there is no place for Lithuania in these plans.
In this context, the plans of Vilnius to "punish" Russia by taking away its share of the energy market evoke nothing but a bitter smile. Oh, the Balts have put on the wrong horse.