Lithuania nuclear power plant to cost up to 7 bln euros

Wed May 9, 2012 4:30pm BST

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* Lithuania backs laws on big energy projects

* Aimed at reducing dependency on Russia

* Plans include new nuclear plant, LNG terminal

VILNIUS, May 9 (Reuters) - Lithuania's government gave its final approval to several plans aimed at reducing its dependency on Russian energy sources on Wednesday, including a new nuclear power plant which it said could cost up to 7 billion euros ($9.10 billion).

The government of centre-right Prime Minister Andrius Kubilius said it had given its approval to laws which underpin plans for the nuclear power plant, a liquiefied natural gas terminal and power grid synchronisation with western Europe involving new cables to Sweden and Poland.

"This day is a big step towards energy independence," Kubilius told reporters after a cabinet meeting which approved the draft laws, which still need parliament backing.

The Baltic states get all their gas from Gazprom and Lithuania sees the LNG terminal as aimed at ending that monopoly. Lithuania was also self-sufficient in electricity until it had to shut down its Soviet-era Ignalina nuclear power plant in 2009. It wants to get that generating capacity back.

Lithuania has already initialled an outline plan for the nuclear power plant with Hitachi-GE Nuclear Energy with aim to build it by 2020-2022 for about 5 billion euros. The plant is aimed at having one 1,350 MW ABWR reactor.

However, the Finance Ministry said in a statement the end cost for the project could be 6.8 billion euros.

Aound 4 billion euros would be borrowed and the rest would come from the countries backing the project, Lithuania, Latvia and Estonia, as well as Hitachi.

Under the agreement backed by the government, Lithuania would have 38 percent of the plant, Estonia 22 percent, Latvia 20 percent and Hitachi 20 percent.

Poland was originally part of the project, but dropped out. Energy Minister Arvydas Sekmokas said the door remained open for Poland to re-join. ($1 = 0.7695 euros) (via Stockholm newsroom, editing by Patrick Lannin)

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