Russian natural gas supply to Latvia flows via Estonian territory

A gas pipeline in Estonia. Photo is illustrative.
A gas pipeline in Estonia. Photo is illustrative. Source: (Urmas Luik/Pärnu Postimees)

A restored pipeline link to Latvia suspended last month means that Russian natural gas is now flowing via Estonia.

Russian state energy giant Gazprom suspended supplies to Latvia in July, saying the latter was in contractual violation, but this week, Russian language, Latvia-based independent media site Meduza reported (link in Russian) that the connection has been restored.

The pipeline passes for a short stretch in Luhamaa in southeastern Estonia, near the border with Russia. That section of the pipeline, which links Valdai, Russia, with the Latvian capital, Riga, (see map), is owned by grid distributor Elering, though operated by a Latvian firm.

The natural gas transmission network in Estonia. The short section of pipeline linking Russia with Latvia which passes through Estonian territory is circled in red. Source: Elering

Elering communications chief Ain Köster confirmed that Russian gas flows via the 22km-long Luhamaa section of pipeline, adding that Elering does not earn any revenue from this arrangement.

He said: "Latvia has one gas connection with Russia - the Pskov-Riga pipeline. For historical reasons, this pipeline passes through the southeast corner of Estonia."

"This pipeline section is not connected to the rest of the Estonian transmission network. Since the pipeline in question constitutes a connection between the Latvian and Russian networks, the entire connection, including the section in Estonian territory, is operated by the Latvian system manager."

One small qualification, Köster added, is that a nearby school in the village of Misso obtains its natural gas from a link to the pipeline also.

Latvia says it plans to wholly decouple from Russian natural gas supply in 2023.

Russian natural gas supply to Latvia began flowing again on August 5.

Latvian gas supplier Latvijas Gaze had previously announced that it does not obtain its natural gas from Gazprom, but instead via intermediaries, and pays for the supply in euros.

The European Commission urges all member states to pay for any natural gas they still import from the Russian Federation in euros, so as not to be in violation of current sanctions imposed on Russia following its invasion of Ukraine from February 24.

Russia demands payment for its oil and gas in Roubles.

Gazprom reportedly holds a 34 percent stake in Latvijas Gaze.

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Editor: Andrew Whyte, Karin Koppel

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