Baltic states to discuss increasing Russian electricity share on market

National flags of the three Baltic States, from left, Estonia, Latvia and Lithuania.
National flags of the three Baltic States, from left, Estonia, Latvia and Lithuania. Source: Siim Lõvi /ERR

The Baltic states are discussing options to allow more Russian and Belarusian electricity on their markets, but even if imports go up, prices going down is not a likely outcome.

A little longer than a year ago, Lithuania suspended its electricity imports from Belarus, saying a nuclear plant near the border was unsafe. With that, the maximum capacity of Russian and Belarusian electricity in the Baltics decreased by some 20 percent.

Estonia and Latvia joined Lithuania and reduced the volume of electricity trade with Russia by demanding certificates proving that the electricity provided does not come from the Astravyets power plant, near Lithuania's border. The three Baltic states have now started discussing a possible increase of the share of Belarusian and Russian electricity.

"We can currently say that we have been in contact with Lithuanian colleagues and this contact will continue intensively over the coming days," Estonian transmission system operator Elering's spokesperson Ain Köster told ERR, adding that Estonia and Latvia reduced the volume of trade with Russia on behalf of Lithuania.

"And now we are discussing if we can turn on the tap a little, so to speak. But we cannot say what the exact numbers are yet, those are still being discussed," he said.

Köster noted that an agreement may be reached in the coming days, but an exact date is hard to predict.

Both Köster and Ministry of Economic Affairs and Communications energy deputy chancellor Timo Tatar emphasized that more Russian electricity on Estonian markets does not mean that prices would go down.

"One thing is allocating commercial capacity to the border, meaning opening the tap. But another question is if this will be followed by electricity supply from the Russian side," Tatar said. "It is not a solution, which will bring prices down significantly."

The economic affairs ministry official said the price of electricity is high everywhere, but especially in the Baltics and Finland. "The situation will not be alleviated by just increasing electricity supply from third countries. It is a factor, which will make the market supply a little better, but I would not dare say that it would normalize prices," Tatar said.

He added that the soaring prices stem from colder weather, low renewable energy production, high fossil fuel prices, as well as the price of CO2. "A little more supply from third countries is certainly not what will change the situation too much. The northern Baltic market is so much larger than Russian electricity supply," Tatar said.


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Editor: Kristjan Kallaste

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