Local government association recommends declaring gas shortage emergency

Gas stove.
Gas stove. Source: John-Mark Smith / Unsplash

The Association of Estonian Cities and Municipalities (ELVL) finds there are considerable natural gas supply disruptions and that market measures cannot ensure gas supply that constitutes a national emergency or a risk of one developing.

ELVL criticized the Ministry of Economic Affairs and Communications' recent position according to which solving the gas supply emergency is the task of local governments.

"We find that the situation where continuous operation of district heating could be disrupted because of nationwide gas shortages cannot be solved on the local government level. A nationwide gas supply disruption or risk thereof cannot be a local level task. Even if there is gas, its price and what it means for the population makes for another problem," Veikko Luhalaid, executive manager of ELVL, said.

While other fuels can be used in place of natural gas in district heating systems, the switch requires a permit from the Environmental Board that in turn requires an official emergency.

"We find that the situation today meets at least two conditions – there are considerable supply disruptions and market measures cannot ensure sufficient supply. Therefore, we have a national emergency or a risk of one developing," Luhalaid added.

He explained that district heating disruptions could occur if service providers fail to source enough natural gas.

"The development of such a situation does not depend on local governments. That is why situations arising from the potential supply disruptions, both for district heating providers and local governments, need to be solved through a common state-level emergency."

Luhalaid pointed out that should heating providers be allowed to use shale oil in place of gas, the material needs to be stockpiled. However, existing shale oil storage facilities are numbered and covered with contracts.

"Being able to use alternative sources of energy come winter, the matter needs to be addressed today. Based on this, we propose that the Ministry of Economic Affairs and Communications declares a natural gas supply emergency," Luhalaid wrote in a letter to the ministry.

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Editor: Marcus Turovski

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