Ruben Martinez | The Lithuania Tribune
The excessive politicization of the liquefied natural gas (LNG) topic, which is mostly mentioned in terms of gas supply, and the current lack of infrastructure work as the main barriers to fully exploit the potential of this industry in the Baltic Sea region. This was one of the main conclusions drawn from a conference held in Riga and dedicated to the use of LNG in the maritime transport industry.
Currently, the LNG topic is high on the agenda in the Baltic States, for energy security is given priority in the region and measures are implemented to open up the gas market.
Lithuania, Latvia and Estonia are currently engaged in talks and negotiations to develop a potential joint LNG import terminal with EU funds. However, its location has been an issue of disagreement between the three states, because each of them aims to host such facility, and the European Commission is to publish an independent to establish which would be the best suited location for the infrastructure.
While Lithuania and Latvia are determined to host the facility in their territory, Estonia hopes to bring Finland into the project, broadening regional cooperation in the issue, and develop the LNG infrastructure in Tallinn.
In parallel with this, Lithuania has already taken the lead and plans to install a Norwegian floating bunkering terminal at Klaipeda in 2014. At the moment, several ports of the Baltic Sea region such as Swinoujscie (Poland), Turku (Finland), and Lubeck, Rostock and Hamburg (Germany) have shown its intention to develop LNG infrastructure, which represents a vital step for securing environmental friendly fuel for ships.
In fact, sea traffic in the Baltic Sea has increased over 50% during the past decade and experts believe it will further grow by 65% until 2020. This means that the Baltic Sea is the densest sea traffic in the world in environmentally vulnerable conditions.
Experts believe that local authorities need to better engage with the energy and maritime industries to boost the construction of LNG infrastructure across the region and promote its use, for example, as a ship fuel alternative.
These and other topics were the core subjects of discussion at the seminar “Green Shipping; using LNG as fuel for vessels” organized by the Norwegian Embassy in Latvia and that aimed to present Norwegian experience and expertise on the topic.
Ruben Martinez is a freelance journalist covering the Baltic region from Riga, Latvia. He has collaborated with several Spanish and English media at the international level. His main interest areas rely in the Baltic states, and economics and human rights journalism. He holds an MA in International Journalism from University College Falmouth (UK).