From the times when the energy suppliers ruled the state rather than vice versa, congenital clubs of experts do not spare energy and imagination to reinvent the evidence why there is no need to transform gas, build LNG terminal and to construct a new nuclear power plant, Virgis Valentinavičius wrote in delfi.lt on 11 November.
Various arguments are being heard. Some say that we don’t have to argue with Moscow, and specifically with „Gazprom“, „Rosatom“ and „Inter RAO EES“. Everything can be agreed with an old Soviet Lithuania approach – armed with valise full of sausages and brandy (no matter that the consequences of this method are very sad – whilst brandy was shifted around, „Lietuvos dujos“ was sold with all pipelines half price, when Belarus and Ukraine hadn’t even done, and the monopolist now dictates by the price that is higher than in Germany).
The others prompting to go to only renewable energy and completely give up the nuclear one (regardless of the price of electricity would double for the consumer, the economy would cease to be competitive and the most beautiful Lithuanian valleys would be flooded by hydro energetics).
The third ones telling straight- without Russia, differently from EU, we will get lost, therefore- no need to jump from one to other. Eastern neighbours and opportunities to build competitive nuclear plants are unlimited, and in general – nuclear plant in Ignalina shouldn’t have been shut.
Old energetics „wolfs“ let us believe that everything is collapsing just because no one is paying attention to their opinion. Other than that, sometimes it seams that their opinion depends on who is in the government. When government is ruled by the Left wing- especially „then“- they agree with everything, but when the government changes its direction, the „wolfs“ objects to everything. The only guess is that direction of the opinions depend on the seriousness of support of energetics’ clan from one or the other side of the government.
Leonas Ašmantas, the Former Minister of Energy, for a long time declared the independence of the energy sector, as well as always supported the idea of nuclear energy and Lithuania’s intentions to remain nuclear state. Note that L. Ašmantas, especially easy was blabbing about energy independence and nuclear ambitions, while none of these aspirations threaten to become a reality.
Now the situation has changed: ex minister suddenly made a hundred and eighty degree turn and began to offer nuclear moratoriums and to doubt the competence of the Japanese. Why in the roadside of the straight L. Ašmantas’s road to energy independence, suddenly sprang up on the forest of road signs with “Z” – the zigzag symbol?
Almighty Google allow us to remember and reminds us what was and how L. Ašmantas’s energy policy trajectory changed.
What a beautiful and correct is far past: In 2004, the gas supply disruption alarmed Association of Lithuanian Energy Union calls for energy independence and President of the Association L. Ašmantas declares: „… the way out for Lithuania’s energy independence – to remain a nuclear state“. (Delfi.lt, 4/Mar/2004).
And in 2007, during the peak of fencing the LEO LT, as „the old energy wolf“ presented L. Ašmantas at the public discussion held at “Citizens Alliance” “to keep all gathered calm, strongly assured them that this project [LEO] will absolutely have no additional costs to the state and we all can be calm („Revival“, 30 March 2007).
In 2008, during the apogee of LEO LT saga, L. Ašmantas publish a renaissance of nuclear energy and find a lot of reasons to develop nuclear energy („Face“, January 5, 2008).
In the same article there is another L. Ašmantas’s constant polyphony note about energy – nuclear plant builders’ from East goodness embodied topic. Former Minister praises the Bulgarians, who are apparently „strategically minded people: a few days prior to the approval of Bulgaria to the European Union and when there were nothing to cancel this action it was announced that Russia had won the tender to build two reactors in Belen“.
The year 2009 – Conservatives are in power already, and the restored Ministry of energetics is headed by Arvydas Sekmokas. LEO is still alive, discussions are in progress what to do with it. Then L. Ašmantas – is still a “hot” nuclear energy proponent: “There is J. Gylys’s strategy prepared, where everything is clearly justified and it must be obeyed, listen to expert opinion, and not dabble into politics and try to walk away from the political debate. („Farmers’ Newspaper“, 28 August 2009).
However, the further from LEO and closer to „Hitachi“, the more L. Ašmantas’s nuclear enthusiasm is cooling off and fading away. In the magazine “40 +” on July 20, article in Lithuania after Fukushima (40 days before publication, claiming that the construction of Visaginas Hitachi and Westinghouse) Ašmantas writes: “It is impossible in the near future to find an investor in Visaginas NP, the external causes – competition from Kaliningrad and Belarus – and inside ones – supposedly Lithuania lack of homework hamper that.
In the same article ex minister-expert sees a large and beating Lithuania nuclear expertise neighbouring Belarus. The evidences are that the first report of the platform at Astrav appeared in 1992, when they hear the proposed 54 possible plant construction sites, then selected 15 – understand that among them was Astrav. L. Ašmantas writes that in Belarus „work was carried out consistently. I’ll remind that Belarus has had a powerful Nuclear Energy Institute, which created a movable NPP “Pamir”, weighing about 20 tons and functioning autonomously in harsh conditions. So there [in Belarus] were plenty of experts“.
May 17th this year, once started L. Ašmantas’s independent energy melody sounds like a mirrored counterpoint – exactly flipped upside down. By using concern based speculation about Kaliningrad and Belarus alleged construction of nuclear power plants, he and other experts offer a moratorium for Visaginas NPP construction works ostensibly to stop the construction of the other one.
“Pending resolution of the problems emerged, we’re proposing to pause Visaginas in Lithuania for an appropriate time period, and continue NPP projects in Astrav in Belarus and in Baltijsk Kaliningrad areas,” – says energy experts named group at the proposal to Dalia Grybauskaitė, Alexander Lukashenko, Dmitry Medvedev, and Valdas Adamkus (which is just this week published memoirs confirming his (or his environment?) fidelity to LEO project and does not spare his scepticism to current energy projects).
The experts wrote: “If we’ll really want only to slow down the constructions in the Belarus and Kaliningrad, and to carry around our own and show that it is a very good thing and we have to build it, we will not receive a positive result. We think that it might be beneficial to start some kind of conversation between the states…”. Basically all of the proposed power plants are suggested to build with Russia, which in practise strongly supports and guarantees to cease building Visaginas’ power plant. L. Ašmantas’s and group of experts proposal nicely confirms the theory that Belarus and the Kaliningrad plants that are being „built“ only in order not to build Visaginas NPP.
Finally, in this week’s “Face” magazine (Veidas) L. Ašmantas pours a load of doubt about a strategic investor, with who negotiations just about to come to an end. „Hitachi“ technology is in a way for him – allegedly ABWR reactor performance is poor and apparently in the Southern Texas contract to build an ABWR reactor has been canceled, and means that the equipment „is likely to be re-dropped in Lithuania“. „Wondering, wheather instead of beautiful bride, we will not acquire a goose like in Lithuanian fairy tale?“ – Upsetly L. Ašmantas quotes. (By the way, „Toshiba’s“ reactors are used in Texas project, the project is halted due to the drop in the shale gas prices and the business plan is being reviewed. In any case, „Hitachi“ reactors will not come from Texas to Lithuania).
Well, the alleged defective reactor’s in Texas gift to Lithuania complement the other non-scientific, fictional arguments „why there is no need for nuclear plant“ – including pranks like „Hitachi“ will transfer reactor from Fukushima. It is not really appropriate for a former energy minister to represent that is possible „secretly“ swap the reactor like a bride in the fairy tale – especially when in the real life groom usually can distinguish his wife from others.
Now he sees the point of grievance for delays to close Ignalina NPP. „When Lithuania took over Ignalina’s NPP, it proved that it can reliably operate it, which Europe had mostly feared, but what is going on there now is discrediting Lithuania as a high-tech nuclear energy state“ – L. Ašmantas says. He is right – but why the closure of Ignalina’s NPP has hit just now – does it mean a subtle underlying idea that with Gediminas Kirkilas, the closure was not a problem and a former Economy Minister Kęstutis Daukšys the other time draw down a perfect contract with „Nukem“?
Why did L. Ašmantas support nuclear energy when Ignalina’s NPP was still working or until he was a supervisory board member of LEO LT and why he no longer supports it, when Lithuania is negotiating with „Hitachi“ for Visaginas NPP construction conditions? Perhaps because for the first time it smells of a real nuclear plant construction?
Arvydas Sekmokas accused for being quiet does much more than he speaks, where L. Ašmantas belongs to another – nicely talking but doing nothing – generation. Only problem is that nice talking and doing nothing had very real consequences – a twenty-year-long guarantee of inviolability of the interests of the East energy monopolists in Lithuania.
For all that twenty years great preponderance was led by those who fought for energy independence from Lithuania. And now success turn its back to them. Because a doing nothing does not teach to act, in accordance with the „Z“ character texts are transformed. Dishonest, but great shout outs for the independent energy aesthetic changes to pure, honest nostalgia for „Pamir“ type portable nuclear wonders – but the problem is, that „Pamir“ aesthetics is out of fashion and is from rotten soviet movies about physicians-nuclearists.
Greitos ir Kokybiskos Vertimu Paslaugos Pigiausiom Kainom Visoje Anglijoje. Kreiptis: Donatas Liaudaitis 07947856342 arba Mr.DonatasL@gmail.com
Virgis Valentinavičius is the Prime Minister Andrius Kubilius’s adviser and in this essay his personal opinion is expressed.