Estonian recommendations for LNG terminal based on PIANC guidelines - ministry

LNG terminal.

PHOTO: SCANPIX

The Finnish gas company Gasum's statement according to which the questions raised by Estonian institutions in the process of environmental impact assessment for a liquefied natural gas (LNG) terminal the firm plans to build in Finland are based on inaccurate data is incorrect, the Estonian Ministry of Economic Affairs and Communications says.

The Estonian authorities have so far assumed that in assessing the suitability of the shipping route to the planned terminal Finland too follows the guidelines of the World Association for Waterborne Transport Infrastructure (PIANC), the ministry said. The said recommendations deal with the safety requirements to shipping channels used for transporting LNG and set out concrete minimum requirements of channel depth and width.

Gasum's experts did not contest that observing those recommendations would require extensive and costly dredging of the channel and removal of millions of cubic meters of soil, but according to the Estonian ministry announced surprisingly that Finland does not intend to follow the guidelines developed for safe waterborne transport and therefore does not consider it necessary to deepen the shipping route to the port of Inkoo. Companies insuring LNG tankers, which are considerably more expensive than conventional tankers, generally insist that PIANC guidelines be strictly observed by shipowners in navigating the vessels.

Estonian researchers' argument concerning the unfavorable wind conditions that prevail in the narrow channel and complicate navigation was not convincingly disproved, either. The information presented by the Finnish side was inconsistent with the detailed documented data previously published by Finland's own leading marine researchers, the Estonian ministry said.

Ignoring the international guidelines for waterways and the combined effect of complicated ice and wind conditions may in the worst case have catastrophic consequences, the ministry said.

At a joint meeting of the Estonian and Finnish environment ministries in Tallinn on Wednesday at which an environmental impact assessment report for an LNG terminal planned to be built in Finland was under discussion Gasum that is in charge of the project claimed that the arguments put forth by the Estonian side were based on either wrong data or explanations that are not applicable in Finnish conditions.

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