Russia shuts off natural gas supply to Finland

The Estonian end of the Balticconnector gas pipeline, in Paldiski.
The Estonian end of the Balticconnector gas pipeline, in Paldiski. Source: Siim Lõvi /ERR

Finland will no longer receive Russian natural gas after the latter switched off its supply Saturday. Gas via the Balticonnector pipeline, which runs between Estonia and Finland, will supply the country with its needs instead.

The development is the latest in a series of shutdowns by the Russian Federation, issued in response to a refusal to pay for Russian energy in roubles, in the wake of the invasion of Ukraine starting February 24.

Olli Sipilä, CEO of the Finnish network company Gasgrid, says the switchover has gone smoothly, the English language portal of public broadcaster Yle reports.

Sipilä told Yle that: "The Finnish system is currently in balance, commercially and physically. Of course, something can always happen; technical failures may occur in the system. That's a normal activity that we aim to control to the best of our ability, but we don't expect any problems."

State natural gas company Gasum announced Saturday that natural gas from other sources would supply the country via Balticconnector; the latter is in turn connected to Poland, through Latvia and Lithuania.

Russian energy giant Gazprom had Gasum Friday that supplies would be halted due to Finland's refusal to meet Russian demands that energy be paid for in roubles.

Gasum has a long-term agreement with Gazprom and the two had been in negotiations since last fall; Gasum says it will take the matter to arbitration.

The shutdown came a week after Russia cut off its electricity supply, which made up around 10 percent of national demand, to Finland.

Balticonnector runs from Paldiski, to Inkoo, on Finland's south coast; once a Liquefied Natural Gas (LNG) terminal is finished in Paldiski – scheduled for autumn – this will also be able to supply Finland via the same pipeline.

Experts say the shut-down will not lead to any major issues for the energy supply of Finland, though some individual businesses my suffer in the coming months.

Russian natural gas only accounted for 6 percent of overall consumption nowadays, Yle reports, compared with as much as 90 percent in the past.

On Friday, Finland also inked a 10-year deal with U.S.-based LNG company Excelerate Energy which will lease an LNG floating terminal – a ship specially fitted-out for the purpose – on that side of the Gulf of Finland also.

Russia had already cut off natural gas supplies to Poland and Bulgaria.

Businesses in Germany and Italy have been permitted by their domestic governments to open rouble accounts, meaning Russian gas can still flow to those countries

The Balticconnector pipeline opened in December 2019.

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Editor: Andrew Whyte

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