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Lithuania nuclear extension not real option – EU

The European Commission on Thursday again poured cold water on Lithuanian hopes to extend the life of the Baltic state’s Soviet-era nuclear power plant.

The government has said it will try to convince the Commission that the Baltic state will face serious energy shortages after shutting the Ignalina plant and has appointed a special negotiator to try and secure this goal. But a Commission representative stuck to the bloc’s position. “In the case of economic difficulties we will have to assess the situation and to examine all different possibilities to ensure energy supplies,” said Dominique Ristori, deputy head of the Commission’s Directorate-General for Energy and Transportation. “In our opinion extending the life of Ignalina’s second unit is not a real option,” he told journalists after meeting Prime Minister Gediminas Kirkilas. He said Lithuania gave a clear legal commitment to shut the plant, which has Chernobyl-type reactors, at the end of 2009.

Lithuania’s special envoy for energy talks with Brussels, former Prime Minister Aleksandras Abisala, said there were no taboos in the discussions, including an extension. “We are talking about whether Ignalina’s shutdown could have a different timing than has been set today ... it means a longer timetable than shutting down immediately,” he told journalists. Lithuania has said it was worried that there were no guarantees of Russian natural gas supplies to fire the fossil power plants, which will replace Ignalina. Ristori said talks on a new partnership deal with Russia gave further arguments for obtaining energy supply guarantees. He also said the Commission was ready to search for appropriate short-term solutions regarding Lithuania’s electricity interconnections with Poland and Sweden, though he did not go into detail. Lithuania has said it expected the link to be built by 2012, but Sweden saw it happening only in 2015. The interconnection with Poland could be delayed as well. (Reuters)