The Balticconnector gas pipeline between Estonia and Finland was opened on Wednesday, marking more than a decade of development in the energy market.
Ceremonies to mark the commissioning of the pipeline took place simultaneously in Helsinki, Finland and Paldiski, Estonia. The parallel events were interconnected with a live stream in the spirit of good cooperation between the two countries and the EU.
Guests of honor at the event were the President of Finland Sauli Niinistö and President Kersti Kaljulaid, who were both attending the ceremony in their respective countries.
Other guests included Minister for Economic Affairs in Finland Mika Lintilä, Minister for Economic Affairs and Infrastructure in Estonia Taavi Aas (Centre) and Klaus-Dieter Borchardt, Deputy Director-General form European Commission Energy Directorate.
The bidirectional Balticconnector pipeline was ready for operation in November, one month ahead of schedule. This enables the opening of the gas markets of Finland and Estonia and integrating them with the rest of the Europe on January 1, 2020. The pipeline improves the local operational reliability of the gas system and enables decentralized gas supplies, as well as the use of LNG and biogas.
The taps were turned at the same time on both shores of the Gulf of Finland during the opening ceremony. The total transmission capacity of Balticconnector is 7.2 million cubic meters per day.
"This is a historic step to integrate three national gas markets in Europe into one in such a large scale. The Balticconnector is the enabler of a much larger regional energy policy change than just a pipeline – it enables establishing a single cross-border gas market," said Taavi Veskimägi, Chairman of Board at Elering.
The 77-kilometer long offshore pipeline between Inkoo and Paldiski is integrated with 21 kilometers of onshore pipeline in Finland and 55 kilometers in Estonia, connecting the pipeline with the gas transmission systems in the two countries.
In a message on Facebook, President Kersti Kaljulaid said: "If it had been a simple task, such a connection would have been made long ago. Since it was not easy, the warmest congratulations are to those who led the project. Now we need to think more about how to use the new connection so that everyone can benefit from it while protecting the environment."
At the ceremony the president also hinted that something other than gas could move through the pipeline in the future.
"We all know that these pipelines, these networks, could also operate on the transport of hydrogen, and I'm pretty sure it will arrive faster in the Nordic region than in the rest of Europe," said Kaljulaid.
The connections between countries make the market bigger and allow fair competition, ERR wrote. Estonia could also start to produce gas or environmentally friendly biogas.
Baltic Connector Oy has been responsible for the project in Finland, and Elering responsible for the works in Estonia. The offshore part of the project was managed jointly by the two companies.
The EU's Connecting Europe Facility funded 75% of the €250 million project. A cornerstone of the project has been the good cooperation between Finland, Estonia, and the EU.
Editor: Helen Wright