Azerbaijan is important oil-and-gas supplier for Europe: Lithuanian FM
Azerbaijan, Baku, March 31 / Trend , E.Ostapenko/
As a key oil-and-gas supplier, Azerbaijan is of strategic importance for Europe, Lithuanian Foreign Minister Vygaudas Ušackas said in an interview with Trend prior to his visit to Baku on April 8-9.
Lithuania supports the rapid formation of the Southern Gas Corridor and acceleration of the Nabucco project, he said.
Nabucco will deliver Azerbaijani and Central Asian gas to the EU. Construction will launch in 2011.
Azerbaijan's potential is not being fully used due to the lack of developed energy infrastructure from the Caspian region to Europe, Ušackas said.
"Therefore, Lithuania stands for strengthening the EU's external energy policy with the Caspian and Black Sea regions," he said.
Official Vilnius expects to see "more of Azerbaijan" in Europe by creating an oil supply corridor from the Caspian to the Baltic Sea, he said.
At the moment, the Odessa-Brody-Plock-Gdansk oil pipeline is one of the most realistic projects in this regard, Ušackas said.
"And we should concentrate on its smooth implementation," he added.
Lithuania is ready to offer the Caspian littoral countries the appropriate conditions for oil transportation, Ušackas said.
The Odessa-Brody oil project will diversify oil supplies to Ukrainian refineries and develop the country's transit capacity. The construction of the Odessa-Brody was completed in May 2002. The pipeline has a length of 674 kilometers. The capacity of the pipeline and terminal during the first stage is 9-14 million tons per year.
What Lithuania also looks much forward to is increasing cooperation between Lithuania and Azerbaijan in other regional and transregional projects, not limited to oil and gas, Ušackas said.
"I am referring to projects such as Transport Corridor Europe-Caucasus-Central Asia, which is very much in line with both Lithuania's and Azerbaijan's interests," he said.
A way to implement these projects could be the so-called "Viking" container train project, he said.
"Currently, the project links the Ukrainian port of Odessa and the Lithuanian Baltic Sea port of Klaipėda. We want to extend the project to the South Caucasus region as well," Ušackas added.
The Viking contained train is a joint railway project of Lithuania, Ukraine and Belarus. The train carries 20-foot and 40-foot containers, semi-trailers and road trains. They arrive at the port of Klaipeda from Scandinavian and Western European countries by sea and via Klaipeda-Mukran ferry route and onwards to Belarus, Ukraine, the Caucasus, the Middle East through the ports of Odessa and Ilyichevsk, as well as in the opposite direction.
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