Lithuania’s Energy Minister Came to Town

May 16, 2011

Juan Verde is the Deputy Assistant Secretary for Europe in International Trade Administration’s Market Access and Compliance Unit.  He is passionate about helping U.S. companies find export opportunities, and has special expertise in renewable energy industry issues.

I am so pleased that last week Lithuania’s Energy Minister Arvydas Sekmokas is in Washington and meeting with U.S. Government officials and U.S. companies on Lithuania’s energy initiatives.  I think this is clear evidence that the Government of Lithuania wants to diversify its energy sources and it acknowledges U.S. industry expertise in the energy sector.

Minister Sekmokas is also discussing plans for shale gas exploration and the Visaginas Nuclear Power Plant.  I had the honor of meeting with him at the Atlantic Council and I was impressed by the Lithuanian government’s dedication to energy diversification and independence.  I am fully supportive of these efforts in Lithuania and the Baltic region.

The press release on the U.S. company Cheniere’s  website underscores the opportunities to be found in Lithuania.   This week the company signed a Memorandum of Understanding with Klaipedos Nafta, the Lithuanian company that operates Lithuania’s crude oil and crude oil products terminal in the port of Klaipeda.  The press release states that the MOU will help “address Klaipedos Nafta’s future natural gas needs and assess LNG purchase and supply options.”

Also, I am very eager to see what additional commercial opportunities for U.S. companies will emerge from the first ever Department of Commerce certified trade mission to Lithuania in September.  Renewable energy is a key export sector targeted for this trade mission.  I plan to be there in September to see this historic and commercially exciting trade mission take off.  More information on the trade mission is available on the American Chamber of Commerce in Lithuania’s web site.

These opportunities in Lithuania are but a small fraction of the global renewable energy and energy-efficient export opportunities out there. In December 2010, Commerce Secretary Locke launched the Renewable Energy and Energy Efficiency Export Initiative, or RE4I. The Initiative includes 23 commitments from 8 different federal agencies (Department of Commerce, Department of Energy, U.S. Trade Representative, State Department, U.S. Trade and Development Agency, Export-Import Bank of the United States, Overseas Private Investment Corporation, and U.S. Department of Agriculture) for new programs, actions, or deliverables that will help address the major export barriers facing U.S. renewable energy and energy efficiency (RE&EE) companies. The initiative also includes an export resource guide to help U.S. companies expand their sales overseas and explore new opportunities.