Baltic, Polish cos agree atomic development venture

Nerijus Adomaitis
July 25,2008

VILNIUS, July 25 (Reuters) – Energy companies in the three Baltic states and Poland agreed on Friday to set up a joint venture to develop a nuclear power plant in Lithuania, the Lithuanian partner said.
The four countries have been negoting on the project for months and hammered out a deal on Friday in Copenhagen.

“The partners have agreed to Lithuania’s proposal to establish a joint project development company, in which LEO LT would hold a 51 percent stake,” Lithuania’s LEO LT said in a statement after a meeting.Lithuania has said it wants to build a 3,200-3,400 megawatt nuclear power plant to replace its Soviet-era Ignalina nuclear facility, due to be shut down at the end of next year.Poland’s Polska Grupa Energetyczna, Latvia’s Latvenergo and Estonia’s Eesti Energia are joining LEO LT in the project.

The project development venture is expected to be replaced at a later stage with a project implementation company, which will have a different share split, LEO LT added.
Lithuania has said it would seek at least 34 percent at the new plant, with Latvia, Estonia and Poland sharing the rest.

Poland has requested at least 1,000 megawatts, while Latvia and Estonia spoke of 400-600 megawatts. Lithuania, however, has refused to promise any output until it knows the results of environmental impact study on the plan’s maximum capacity.

The preliminary results of the study are expected in August.
Lithuania hopes to complete the new plant by 2015, but analysts have said 2017-2018 would be more realistic.

The country’s parliament has called a non-binding referendum for October on extending Ignalina’s lifespan beyond 2009 to prevent a surge in power prices despite agreeing in its European Union acession treaty to shut it down.

It shut the first reactor in 2004.
But the European Commission has said extending life of the remaining 1,300 megawatt reactor at Ignalina — of the same design as Ukraine’s Chernobyl facility, site of the world’s worst nuclear disaster in 1986 — was not an option. (Reporting by Nerijus Adomaitis, editing by Anthony Barker)