* Lithuanian officials, angered by Russia’s halting of oil supplies to the country, have said that they may join Poland in blocking talks on a new EU-Russia agreement.
Transneft, Russia's state-controlled pipeline operator, shut the Druzhba link to Mazeikiu Nafta, the only refinery in the Baltic states, following a reported leak last July. There has been speculation that Russia may be using the blockage to lower the value of Mazeikiu, and in this way encourage Poland’s PKN Orlen, which beat Russian rivals to take over the plant, to abandon its acquisition of the refinery.
Deputy Foreign Minister Zygimantas Pavilionis told Reuters that he would like the issue to be discussed at the upcoming European Council meeting on 8-9 March saying, "We think that the EU should influence the process. We have asked the (EU) presidency, but nothing has happened." He further questioned Russia's motives: "The leak can be fixed in several weeks, but eight months have passed already and nothing has happened. It is a political act."
Transneft told Kommersant that an examination of the pipeline is ongoing and that supplies would not be resumed earlier than March 2007. In the eventuality that the pipeline cannot be repaired, the construction of a new one might take up to two years.
EU talks with Russia on a wide-ranging co-operation agreement were vetoed last November by Poland, over Russia's ban on Polish meat imports.
Fears of over-dependence on Russian energy supplies have led the three Baltic states and Poland to agree in principle on the construction of a new nuclear power plant in Lithuania by 2015.
Lithuanian President Valdas Adamkus told Reuters on 23 February : "There is an agreement between Lithuania, Latvia, Estonia and Poland to secure energy independence by building more than one nuclear reactor," while Prime Minister Gediminas Kirkilas said that a deal to build the plant was expected to be signed mid-2008, with a tender to supply the reactors due by early 2009.