European Commission’s LNG terminal decision to come in September

Alexela Energia juht Marti Hääl.

PHOTO: Toomas Huik

In two weeks’ time, energy directorate of the European Commission is to decide if the EU-supported LNG (liquefied natural gas) terminal will be built in Paldiski, Estonia – or, rather, on a location yet to be chosen in Finland. 

«On certain conditions, the construction of the terminal may even happen under the upcoming round of financing as we filed our joint proposals with Gasum according to the previously agreed timetable,» said Alexela Energia chief Marti Hääl. «We proposed several versions which I am not able to reveal due to confidentiality. Now, the commission will need to decide which of the solutions is the most acceptable to them, and thereafter to also discuss its decision with the governments of Estonia and Finland.»

Finnish delay

Mainly, there are three solutions. Construction of the terminal may start as early as the beginning of 2015 and be completed in 2018 – in case the commission will favour Alexela’s project with all of its preparations already completed.  

If Gasum emerges as winner, the Finns will probably only then begin their three-years-long search for the right location. Gasum, operating under the watchful eye of Gazprom, may get the terminal ready by 2012, earliest. An option to also consider is building varying-sized terminals, at the same time, in both Estonia and Finland.  

The Finnish slowness may be caused by a secret desire to delay liberalisation of the market, being tied by long-term contracts with Gazprom.

«Up to now, the Finns have focussed on the development of their own small LNG-terminal developments; at the Gulf of Botnia and the Gulf of Finland, their terminal developments are in the very initial phases – about where we were with Paldiski three years ago, or even earlier,» said Mr Hääl.

Seabed pipeline

This Monday in Brussels, energy directorate representative held meetings with LNG-terminal developers as well as with people preparing Balticconnector – the gas pipelines connecting Estonian and Finnish transmission networks. EG Võrguteenus and Gasum, majority-owned by Gazprom, applied to European Commission for support to research options to build Balticconnector. Building the pipe might start with the 2017 financing round funds.

«Most time-consuming here is the undersea geotechnical investigation which may take up to two years,» said Priit Heinla, Balticconnector project manager on behalf of Estonia. «The goal is to chart the geological structure and profile of the seabed.»

Balticconnector, nearly 80 kilometres long and costing €100m, will enable Gazprom – the sole supplier of Finland and the Baltics with natural gas – to arrange its business in a way more effective by creating a connection between Latvia’s underground gas storage facilities and the Finnish market – which basically equals the Baltic one in size. 

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