* Lithuania becomes separate price area of Nord Pool Spot
* Will remain isolated until neighboring Latvia joins
By Nerijus Adomaitis
OSLO, June 18 (Reuters) - The European Nord Pool Spot power exchange took over Lithuania’s domestic electricity trading platform on Monday as the country prepares to eventually join the Nordic power region and trade across borders.
In an agreement between Nord Pool and Lithuania’s grid operator, the country has became a separate bidding area on the exchange. As long as it remains an isolated trading area, its prices will have no impact on the Nordic system price, which includes Danish, Swedish, Norwegian, Finnish and Estonian prices, the exchange said.
“It has always been the long-term goal to integrate the Baltics into the Nordic power market, and we are pleased to launch the Lithuania bidding area,” Stina Johansen, a spokeswoman for Nord Pool Spot said.
“We hope this will increase transparency, as all market participants have to follow the same rules as in the Nordic countries,” she added.
Estonia, the northernmost Baltic state, joined Nord Pool Spot in 2010 after installing a 350 megawatt sub-sea power connection to Finland.
Latvia, which has connections to Estonia, also plans to join soon, although there is yet no set date. Lithuania has power connections to Latvia.
“When Latvia becomes a part of Nord Pool Spot area, Lithuania will become fully integrated through Latvia,” Johansen said, but added she could not give a timetable for that.
With Poland also planning to join, the Nordic power region could soon become Europe’s biggest power market next to the coupled market region of Germany, France and the Benelux countries, known as the Central West European electricity market region.
Lithuania is the biggest of the three Baltic states, which left the former Soviet Union in the early 1990s and joined the European Union in 2004.
While Estonia is self-reliant on power generation from local oil shale, and Latvia has to import some, Lithuania imported 65 percent of power in 2011. That made it the most dependent on power imports, mostly from Russia. (Reporting by Nerijus Adomaitis, editing by Jane Baird)