Vilnius (AFP) - Lithuania said Saturday it had signed a trade agreement to buy liquified natural gas from the United States in a move aimed at reducing the EU Baltic state's heavy dependence on Russian gas deliveries.
Under the deal with Houston-based Chenier Energy company, the first LNG fuel is expected to arrive in Lithuania as early as next year, state-owned company Litgas said in a statement.
"This agreement entered into with Cheniere ... will provide us access to the prolific US natural gas market," Litgas General Manager Dominykas Tuckus said.
Lithuania's first floating LNG terminal started commercial activity in January, becoming the first such facility to sever Moscow's grip on gas deliveries to the Baltic states.
The nation of three million will initially import 0.54 billion cubic metres of gas from Statoil in 2015, covering about one-fifth of its demand.
The first US LNG export terminal is expected to starts its operations later this year.
The Baltic states' reliance on Russia for gas is a legacy of its five decades of Soviet rule, which ended in 1991.
Members of the EU and NATO since 2014, Lithuania and fellow Baltic states Latvia and Estonia are concerned about Russia's actions in Ukraine and fear that Moscow could attempt to destabilise its Soviet-era Baltic backyard.
"LNG exports by the US may weaken the position of Russia which uses its energy resources as an energy weapon to blackmail countries dependent on Russian gas," Lithuania's Energy Minister Rokas Masiulis said this week.