MOSCOW, January 30 (RAPSI) – Shareholders of Lithuanian gas giant Lietvuvos Dujos voted at a meeting Thursday to initiate arbitration proceedings against Gazprom, with their sights set on reducing gas prices, the Lithuanian Energy Ministry announced in a statement.

The statement reads: “Today, 30 January 2014, an Extraordinary General Meeting of Shareholders of AB Lietuvos Dujos was convened, at which the shareholders holding a majority of the shares of AB Lietuvos Dujos voted in favor of a resolution authorizing the General Manager of the Company to initiate arbitration proceedings against OAO Gazprom with the aim to reduce the over-high prices of gas supply.”

The statement notes that the Lithuanian Energy Ministry is among Lietvuvos Dujos’ shareholders, and that it supported the proposal as the company and Gazprom had been unable to reach an agreement during negotiations.

The Ministry asserts: “OAO Gazprom supplied gas price for AB Lietuvos Dujos is significantly higher than in Latvia’s, Estonia’s or Germany’s markets. This is harmful for our customers, for our economy and also for the company AB Lietuvos Dujos, which is actually losing customers and gas consumption is being significantly reduced because of such prices.”

The Lithuanian company announced earlier this month through the Vilnius Stock Exchange Information Network that its shareholders would consider on January 30 the Lithuanian Energy Ministry’s proposal to initiate arbitration proceedings against the Russian gas giant.

“The arbitration proceedings will be ceased if the company reaches an amicable contract with Gazprom, which will be approved by the board of directors,” the statement read.

In October 2012, Lithuania filed a EUR 1.5 billion claim against Gazprom with the Arbitration Institute of the Stockholm Chamber of Commerce.

The Lithuanian Energy Ministry claimed that Gazprom agreed to supply natural gas to Lithuania at fair prices based on a price formula stipulated in a gas supply and privatization contract signed by Lietuvos Dujos and Gazprom in 2004.

However, gas prices grew considerably from 2004 to 2012, as the calculations for the price were changed in violation of the privatization contract.

Gazprom owns a 37.1 percent stake in Lietuvos Dujos, while Germany's E.On Ruhrgas holds a 38.9 percent stake, the Lithuanian State Property Fund owns 17.7 percent, and other individuals and entities own a 6.3 percent stake.

Gazprom is currently the only supplier of natural gas to Lithuania.