Estonia likely immune to Gazprom Germany pipeline maintenance tactics

Industrial gas production plant in Leuna, Germany (photo is illustrative).
Industrial gas production plant in Leuna, Germany (photo is illustrative). Source: Linde Engineering.

While gas prices in Estonia will rise substantially in the autumn, the country is not likely to be affected by maintenance work being carried out by Russian gas giant Gazprom, to its pipelines serving Germany and other European nations.

While, some observers say, the Russian interruptions are a deliberate strategy aimed at getting the most favorable conditions from the Germans on the Nord Stream 2 pipeline, and with forthcoming elections there in mind, Estonia's needs can be amply met by supply from both Latvia and Lithuania, ERR reports.

Ain Köster, spokesperson for network operator Elering told ERR that the issue will not affect Estonia, since the country's natural gas needs are met via storage facilities in Latvia, as well as a Liquefied Natural Gas (LNG) terminal in Lithuania.

Köster said: "We have used an LNG terminal in the Baltic States, in Lithuania, for several years. Gas can also be brought in via this terminal, and this is happens."

The usual preparations for higher winter consumption volumes are going ahead in Latvia, Köster went on, while the LNG terminal in Lithuania can supply all three Baltic States where needed, he added.

"I don't think we have much cause for concern," he said.

As to the German situation, Andrei Belyi,adjunct professor at the University of Eastern Finland, in Kupio, told ERR that the supply shortage may be an intentional strategy on the part of Gazprom, ahead of Nord Stream 2 pipeline going on-line.

Belyi said that: "It is no secret that Gazprom, and German companies, have been issuing warnings that seasonal maintenance is on its way."

"They are suggesting that another pipeline is always useful," Belyi added. 

"The question that observers have been asking is why the Yamal-Europe and Nord Stream 1 pipelines are both being serviced at the same time. This seems questionable, given the difficulties facing natural gas supply in Europe," he continued.

The Yamal-Europe pipeline runs over 4,000km, from western Siberia, to Germany, and was opened in the 1990s.

The maintenance work could, ERR reports, mean gas shortages in the fall.

Reform MP and Riigikogu foreign affairs committee chair Marko Mihkelson said that by creating supply difficulties, Russia is trying to ensure the most favorable regulation possible for Nord Stream 2, which, along with Nord Stream 1, will spell a fundamentally new phase in European-Russian energy politics.

He said: "One important factor which may not materialize immediately, but may play a role in the near future, is that Germany's parliamentary elections are on September 26. The Greens, who are very critical of Nord Stream 2, are still on a par with the CDU at present".

Gazprom has been carrying out maintenance work on several of its pipelines in Western Europe, while supply has been maintained via stored gas in Austria, as well as in Germany.

Latvia's natural gas storage facilities have been in used for decades, and capacity considerably outstrips demand, ERR reports. 

Market leader Eesti Gaas announced last month that prices to consumer would climb by an average of 50 percent at the beginning of September and, while the market has been liberalized and several other suppliers are available to switch to, the main reason given for the hike was record prices on the world market.


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Editor: Andrew Whyte

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