VILNIUS, Feb 12 (Reuters) - The United States is interested in supplying natural gas to Belarus via Lithuania’s Klaipeda liquefied natural gas (LNG) terminal, the incoming U.S. ambassador to Lithuania said.
“I know that when I was in Washington, there was a strong interest in this (LNG supplies) and I had meetings with the Department of Energy on this very issue,” incoming ambassador Robert S. Gilchrist said in interview with Lithuania’s BNS newswire.
“I think there is certainly hope for that,” he said.
A recent visit to Belarus by Secretary of State Mike Pompeo marked the highest profile visit there by a U.S. official in two decades.
He said U.S. producers stood ready to deliver 100% of Belarus’ oil needs.
Russia sees Belarus as a buffer zone between it and the West, and it has helped prop up its President Alexander Lukashenko with loans and energy subsidies. But it started to scale back that help last year.
Lithuania stands ready to help Belarus reduce its reliance on Russian gas, Energy Minister Zygimantas Vaiciunas told Reuters.
In January landlocked Belarus imported a tanker of oil from Norway via Klaipeda. Belarus has failed to agree a 2020 oil supply deal with Russia.
In 2015, Lithuania said Belarus pipeline operator Transgaz, owned by Russian gas supplier Gazprom, blocked an attempt to export LNG from Lithuania to Ukraine through Belarus. (Reporting by Andrius Sytas; editing by Jason Neely)
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