Friday, March 28, 2008

Gaspromisation of Latvia - full speed forward!

The stability of the Godmanis government in Latvia is being tested. Today the government would discuss how and to whom state telecommunications giant Lattelecom would be privatized. Almost all media channels in Latvia today are discussing the plans of present government to give up the idea of diversifying energy sources. It is the minister of economics Kaspars Gerhards (TB/LNNK) who is PRO coal station and also Roberts Zīle (TB/LNNK=MEP) supports him. The PM reiterates that Latvia should build both coal and gas powered stations. Andris Šķēle in his interview to Latvijas Avīze openly stands against the coal powered station and proposes to use the peat instead. Also Minister of Finance Atis Slakteris (TP) and former PM Aigars Kalvītis believe that Latvia should build gas powered electricity station.

If Gazprom & Itera Latvija lobbied project would succeed then Latvian electricity generating capacity would be about 60% dependent on Gazprom, or to use the expression of my colleague Andris Spruds, Latvia will be gazpromised. Success of this project is almost accomplished because Latvian present government stands against the EU energy commissioner (Andris Piebalgs!) promoted policy, that energy producers and providers in the EU should be split, in order to prevent creation of natural monopolies (so called Gazprom clause).

In addition, I live in Salaspils and Riga Termoelectric Station (TEC2) is in my municipality. Already 1,5 years ago a new gas turbine was shipped by sea here (got a lot of Latvian media attention) and all 2007 they were constructing the gas pipeline leading to the new energy producing facility within the same TEC2.

It means that the building of the new gas powered station was probably financed by the Latvenergo Plc, or Latvian taxpayers even without parliament giving it a green light? Anyway, the guarantees of state funding for the newly built and gas powered station was declined in the Latvian parliament in the first reading. It is not yet approved by the MP's and only God knows when it will be discussed?

In the meantime the Minister of Economics tries to promote the coal powered station in Liepāja, and even thinks bout linking this station with electricity cable to Sweden. It seems that these efforts are too late, and Lithuanians managed to agree with Swedes before. Actually the comment of Vytautas Landsbergis last week attest to that. In his interview to Diena he openly scolded Latvian government for being too lenient to the whims of Gazprom. In addition to the prominent Lithuanian MEP there are other news about gazpromisation of Latvia.

Last week the Head of Latvian Ice hockey Federation Mr Kirovs Lipmans agreed with Russian partners about participation of Dynamo Riga ice-hockey squad in the newly created Russian Continental Cup competition. According to Lipmans the newly created, or to be precise the reanimated Soviet era ice-hockey squad, would be sponsored by Gazprom.

There are too much news to comprehend how exactly the new gas powered station would be legalized in Latvia? Also the stability of Godmanis government is fragile, if the founder of People's Party Mr Andris Šķēle openly argues that inability to sucessfully accomplish the administrative reform would prove lethal to the present cabinet. Lets wait and see, because governing fractions in Latvia are arguing today like gangsta members not only about future spoils, but also about the ability to stay clear from possible imprisonments.

P.S. Rather unexpectedly also my colleague Andris Sprūds in Poland had the same apprehensions today. Thus, those of you reading in Latvian are welcome to read his contemplations

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