Lithuanian Prime Minister Algirdas Butkevičius announced that a new tender for shale gas exploration will be put out in the autumn of this year – The Baltic Course announced yesterday. He assured that the departure of Lithuania by Chevron will not affect the government’s work on shale gas exploration.
In an interview with local media Butkevičius argued that Chevron’s decision to cease the exploration of shale gas in Lithuania will not affect the government’s scheduled work on shale gas exploration.
“This does not affect our plans. The Ministry of Environment has been obligated to announce another tender to carry out exploration work in the autumn. Draft laws have also been prepared which were approved at the meeting of the Strategic Committee. We hope that all draft laws related to exploration and further activity will be adopted in Parliament before the call for proposals,” Butkevicius told the media on Wednesday.
“I see no problems for separate companies to participate in a tender,” the prime minister noted.
The opposition leader Andrius Kubilius takes a different view. In his opinion, Chevron has decided to withdraw from Lithuania because it was discouraged by the current government inaction. In his opinion, this resignation might affect the decision of other potential investors.
“Having met with representatives of Chevron he [Butkevičius] promised to settle things swiftly. However, once he felt pressure from interest groups or politicians he let things flow on their own. There is no political will to find solutions – only talks, promises, avoidance of responsibility and attempts to put blame for personal inaction on others,” Kubilius pointed out.
“We have lost not only a quarter of a billion of revenue in the budget, but also an opportunity to increase pension benefits. We have lost the interest of other investors and the ability to generate future revenues for the state. This can very easily create a negative image of Lithuania and deter investors” – said the former prime minister.
Member of the European Parliament Valentinas Mazuronis also saw the withdrawal of Chevron as a sign of Lithuania’s limited competitiveness on the global stage.
“We should remember that we live in the 21st century, when it is especially hard to compete with neighbours. Only winning this competitive struggle we may have a chance to have better lives,” Mazuronis said, adding: “It must be told plainly – all of us lost this round, some due to misunderstanding or belief that they protect Lithuania’s nature and people’s health, others due to greediness expecting to get rich fast. Perhaps some people were tempted by forces pursuing their own interests and plans which have nothing in common with Lithuania’s well-being.”
Earlier this year Lithuania announced that the country’s Environment Ministry is working on a taxation scheme under which shale gas production would be exempted from tax during the initial three or four years. After this initial period it would be subject to a 15 percent tax rate. In this, Lithuania follows the lead of Poland, which recently proposed a Tax Bill under which shale gas exploration will be tax-free until the year 2020.
IMAGE: Lithuanian parliament house.
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