E.On ponders nuclear option in Lithuania

Swedish energy company E.ON Nordic is considering taking part in a project to build a new nuclear power plant in Lithuania, which would replace the ageing Ignalina plant, the company's CEO said on Tuesday.

“We have long experience in nuclear energy. We are ready to share this experience with our partners in Lithuania and also ready to contribute to building a new nuclear power plant in Lithuania,” Lars Frithiof told reporters after meeting with Lithuanian Prime Minister Gediminas Kirkilas.

He also said that E.ON Nordic could contribute financially to the project to build a new nuclear plant to replace the Chernobyl-style Ignalina reactors.

“The Lithuanian government would decide what our contribution to the project would be,” Frithiof said.

Lithuania’s Ignalina nuclear plant supplies around 70 percent of the Baltic country’s electricity needs. But it is to be shut down in 2009 under Lithuania’s commitments to the European Union, which it joined in 2004.

Lithuania, together with the two other Baltic states, Estonia and Latvia, in February gave their backing to a project to build a new nuclear power plant in Lithuania.

A feasibility study aimed at evaluating the technological, environmental, legal and economic aspects of the new nuclear plant is expected to be completed later this year.

E.ON Nordic is also interested in a project that would link the energy systems of Lithuania and Sweden, Frithiof said.

Lithuanian state-owned energy company Lietuvos Energija and Sweden’s Svenska Kraftnat in August signed a deal to launch a feasibility study into linking the energy grids via a 350-kilometre (220-mile), 700- to 1,000-megawatt cable which would be laid in the Baltic Sea.

Preliminary estimates value the project at around 400 million euros (510 million dollars).

Lithuania is currently heavily dependent on energy from Russia, its only supplier of gas and a major supplier of oil.