Kinga Dudzinska is an expert on the Baltic states and their energy policies at Polish Institute of International Affairs. She answered Europolitics questions about Gazprom's decision to sell its stake in Lithuania's gas utility and the implementation of EU's third energy package.
Gazprom previously refused to adapt to the unbundling rules imposed by the third energy package and continues to do so in the case of South Stream. What is behind Gazprom's motivation to sell its share in Amber Grid, Lithuania's gas transmission pipeline?
Lithuania's negotiations with Gazprom are not only a question of finance steered by the profit criteria or by the factor of economic viability. In this case, there is a greater issue at stake. Lithuania's deal with Gazprom may serve as a peculiar "case study" for other European countries that have to introduce the third energy package. Initially, Lithuania's authorities assumed the most aggressive versions of the legislation. The current negotiations show that both sides are willing to step down a bit. In response to the EU's third energy package and gas market unbundling, a new gas transmission company was established - Amber Grid. It was spun off from Lietuvos Dujos, in which Gazprom has a 37% stake. But, as announced, the Russian company will quit the ownership structure of the gas pipelines. However, at the moment, crucial details - regarding gas prices or a partial change in the calculation of prices based on a "basket" of oil products - are not known(1).
Could Gazprom's move in Lithuania foreshadow its attitude to other third energy package issues like the South Stream pipeline designed to bring Russian gas to Western Europe across the Black Sea and the Balkans?
I would not join these two issues, as we have to remember that Russian gas is transported through Lithuania to the Kaliningrad region [a Russian enclave in the EU - Ed]. Moreover, I would expect that Gazprom will try to negotiate individually with each country, and one move does not foreshadow the next one.
Does Gazprom's concession have consequences for the ongoing anti-trust probe of the European Commission, suspecting Gazprom of manipulating prices, preventing diversification and dividing markets in Central...