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With the Poles showing interesting in potential oil fields in Baltic Sea territory belonging to Lithuania, energy expert Romas Švedas and Conservative leader Gabrielius Landsbergis point out what measures should be taken so that the Russian oil corporation Lukoil would not participate in the process.

Polish Prime Minister Mateusz Morawiecki, who was visiting Vilnius on Friday, confirmed that the Poles would be interested in potential opportunities for oil surveying in Lithuania.

"Yes, we are certainly seeking to deepen our cooperation in terms of gas transport and oil surveying," he is cited as saying by ELTA.

Lessons to learn from

R. Švedas said that just someone taking interest in Lithuanian natural resources is positive news. Nevertheless, he observed that Lithuania lacks experience in implementing large-scale infrastructural projects.

"Considering that it is a large scale potential project linked with the exploitation of natural resources and infrastructure, it would need to be implemented step by step and with perfect transparency. Any hurrying, any opaque decision making will lead to negative, resonant comments both from the public and politicians," he said.

The energy expert reminded of the story of shale gas and the United States company Chevron.

"It was a perfect example of what not to do. Lithuania has shale gas, but because the project was politicised, prior to enacting it, information attacks appeared and to our shame and despair, we did not even make a testing rig and do not even know, how much shale gas we have," he said.

R. Švedas also said that one of the main Lithuanian interests is to have as many participants in oil surveying and potentially pumping tenders as possible.

"Another matter is that the investors should match Euro Atlantic integration criteria. These criteria must be at the core and expressed in a non-discriminatory basis," R. Švedas added, when asked about potential Lukoil interests.

The Russian oil corporation is currently pumping oil in the Russian part of the Curonian Spit. The Polish state company Lotos is also pumping crude oil in the Baltic Sea.

Uninclined to Russian participation

G. Landsbergis agreed that surveying should be done in Lithuanian waters.

"First of all we should discuss the competition for surveying because realistically we do not know for certain, where our oil fields begin and where they end. We only have primary geological data that theoretically it should exist in Lithuanian waters.

After investigating, it would be clear, what size the field is. If it were large, then it would draw the interest of a far larger number of companies. Then we could discuss a real and transparent international competition, where Western companies which exploit oil fields could participate," the opposition MP said.

When asked why we should limit ourselves to Western companies, G. Landsbergis specified that it is linked with Lithuanian national security interests.

"The Seimas National Security and Defence Committee chairman recently said that Russian companies should not participate in competitions to implement strategic projects. I agree with this opinion," he stated.

G. Landsbergis also added that the surveying and exploitation of the potential oil field is very important for Lithuania because failing to do so, it is likely that Russia could pump Lithuanian oil through its source.

Foreign examples lead to optimism

Geologist Saulius Šliaupa told Delfi that there were numerous surveys done for oil in the Baltic Sea during the Soviet era in the 1970-80s.

"Mostly it was seismic material, which allows us to specific the prospects of the structure. Several rigs have been placed. No special structures were found, we could perhaps only expect something more near the Latvian border.

However, both in Poland and Kaliningrad Oblast, oil and gas rigs are in operation and this leads to optimism. I believe that it is worth to at least perform surveying," the scientist said.

S. Šliaupa stated that earlier such plans were shelved because of negative responses from politicians and the public.

"Geologists do not truly agree with it. It was a political decision, however Lithuanians are overall sensitive in respect to ecology questions," he said.

The way is open

This week a ruling was passed in a government meeting to allow oil surveying and drilling in the Lithuanian part of the Baltic Sea.

The cabinet agreed with changes to the Subterranean Law, which specifies subterranean management, exploitation, oversight and control organisation principles, the government press service announced.

These plans still have to be passed in the Seimas. In order for the amendments to come into power, they must be signed by the president.

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