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    Energy Firms Appeal Against Balticconnector Shutdown


Elenger and others claim they did not receive sufficient notice of the one-month closure.

by: Joseph Murphy

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Natural Gas & LNG News, Europe, Premium, Infrastructure, Pipelines, News By Country, Estonia, Finland

Energy Firms Appeal Against Balticconnector Shutdown

Energy companies have called on Latvia's government and the region's gas transmission system operators to delay the one-month shutdown of the Balticconnector gas link between Finland and Estonia, according to an appeal published by Estonian gas and power supplier Elenger on April 6.

The 2.6bn m3/yr bi-directional pipeline is due to go offline on May 1 and not resume operations until May 31, so that Latvian grid operator Conexus Baltic Grid can modernise the Viresi-Tallinn interconnector between Latvia and Estonia. Conexus only announced its plan on March 20, which Elenger said violated EU regulations on giving market participants sufficient notice.

"We have tried in good faith to reach a joint agreement with Conexus Baltic Grid regarding the postponement of the reconstruction works, however, our attempts have been unsuccessful," Elenger said. "Therefore, we appeal to the system operators of the three Baltic States and Finland, and to the Latvian government, to find a solution that will take into consideration interests of joint gas market and all its participants."

The appeal was signed by board members of Elenger, its parent company Eesti Gaas and another Estonian firm Alexela.

The shutdown of Balticconnector will result in millions of euros of losses for market participants that rely on its gas, Elenger said. Furthermore, it said the reconstruction works had not received the approval of the Estonian, Lithuanian and Finnish system operators.

"Such hasty behaviour which does not take interests of the market participants into account and puts the reliability of subsequent operation of the pipeline, as well as co-operation capacities and energy security of the states, in serious doubt," the company said.

The solution, Elenger said, is for Conexus to postpone its work for at least a year, notifying market participants of the date at least a year in advance. It also called for closer co-operation between Baltic system operators, stressing that such lengthy shutdowns needed to be approved consensually.

Balticconnector was commissioned in December, opening up the Finnish gas market, which until then received all its pipeline gas from Russia. The Baltic states can also use the pipeline to access Russian gas via Finland.