March 12, 2009 / 6:01 PM / 10 years ago

Lithuania to seek strategic investor for n-plant

VILNIUS, March 12 (Reuters) - Lithuania has decided to hold a tender to find a strategic investor from abroad to help build a new nuclear power plant by 2018, the government said on Thursday, in a change of strategy.

The former centre-left government last year formed a national company, LEO LT, to finance the project along with the other two Baltic states and Poland, but the centre-right coalition now in power has changed its mind.

“I doubt LEO LT is capable of building the plant. None of the four countries involved have expertise to do so, therefore we need to get the strategic investor,” Energy Minister Arvydas Sekmokas told journalists.

“A tender to choose the strategic investor could be announced by the end of this year after we draw up a business plan,” he added.

Sekmokas said the potential strategic partners could be Finnish Fortum FUM1V.HE, Swedish Vattenfall [VATN.UL], French EDF (EDF.PA), German RWE (RWEG.DE) or E.ON (EONGn.DE).

“I have had talks with some of them and there is an obvious interest,” he said.

Estonia, Latvia and Poland have been expected to join the project for a new nuclear power plant, but no formal agreements have been reached so far.

Poland said it would participate in the project if it receives no less than 1,000 MW of power.

Lithuania, an EU and NATO member state since 2004, is still a part of the electricity system of the former Soviet Union, with no direct links to Europe, except to Finland via Estonia.

The minister declined to disclose the capacity of the new nuclear power plant or its units saying that should be negotiated during the tender process.

“Our goal (for the new plant) remains 2018, but we don’t have a clear plan yet ... We have to find a strong investor this year,” he added.

Reporting by Nerijus Adomaitis; Editing by Keiron Henderson

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