Boosting Balticconnector Pipeline Capacity for Regional Gas System Resilience
Posted 23/11/2023 15:03
Finnish transmission system operator Gasgrid and its Estonian counterpart, Elering, have announced plans to increase the technical capacity of the Balticconnector interconnection point following the recommissioning of the pipeline. This comes after the pipeline suffered a rupture in early October 2023, prompting a shutdown due to seismic signals indicating a possible explosion near Paldiski, Estonia.
The incident, attributed to the Newnew Polar Bear vessel, necessitated a comprehensive repair process expected to take at least five months. During this period, Finland's natural gas demand is being met through LNG imports, with Gasum delivering the second LNG cargo to the Inkoo FSRU terminal and reserving additional slots for the upcoming winter season.
Acknowledging the importance of energy security, the Finnish-Baltic region's transmission system operators have actively engaged in infrastructure projects to enhance pipeline capacities and fortify the regional gas system. The Balticconnector, a 152-kilometer gas pipeline between Finland and Estonia, has played a crucial role in ending Finland's isolation from the EU gas market and ensuring energy security in the region.
Previously, Balticconnector's northbound capacity ranged between 55-60 GWh/day in winter and 65 GWh/day in summer. Gasgrid and Elering now reveal an increased capacity of 78 GWh/day from Finland to Estonia, nearing the pipeline's maximum transportation capacity. The enhancement of the Latvia-Lithuania interconnection further facilitates higher gas volumes across the region.
Gasgrid and Elering clarify that, once flows are restored over the Balticconnector pipeline and inspection and maintenance works in the Estonian-Latvian system are completed, the base capacity will be raised in the EST-FIN direction to 70.5 GWh/day. This increased capacity is anticipated to be available to the market from October 2024, aligning with planned regional maintenance works in 2024.
In the interim, Eesti Gaas (Elenger) plans to bring an additional LNG cargo from the U.S. to the Inkoo terminal in late November 2023, ensuring continuous gas supply to Finland. The FSRU-based terminal, with a capacity of around 68,000 tons of LNG, serves as a crucial source of energy, totaling approximately 1,050 GWh when fully laden.