Stored reserves of natural gas serving not only Estonia but also Latvia, Lithuania and Finland are currently at 55 percent capacity, ahead of heating season, compared with a European average of 80 percent, ETV news show 'Aktuaalne kaamera' (AK) reported Sunday.
The gas storage facility at Incukalns, Latvia hold the reserves for all three Baltic States plus Finland
Energy policy expert Andres Mäe told AK that: "As of Friday, [the Incukalns storage facility's] capacity was 55 percent of the maximum volume, while the trend was downwards, meaning more natural gas is being extracted from it it than comes in."
This relates to the halting of inward natural gas supplies from the Russian Federation in the wake of the invasion of Ukraine, he added.
"Since August 12, not a single cubic meter has reached [Incukalns] from Russia," Mäe said.
An agreement between the Estonian, Latvian, Lithuanian and Finnish governments is needed on how to distribute the remaining gas reserves, to avoid any struggles in winter.
While the average capacity of natural gas storage facilities in Europe is 80 percent, Mäe added, the picture there varies too.
He said: "In Europe, warehouses are filled to an average of 80 percent. The worst situation is in the Baltics, followed by Bulgaria, then Hungary and Austria. The remaining states are either very close to 80 percent or have exceeded it. However, the six countries mentioned are somewhere around 60 percent or even less, as in the case of the Latvian facility."
AK reported that France, which imports from both Norway and Algeria, by comparison enjoys around a 90 percent natural gas storage capacity, President Emmanuel Macron said recently.
Elering: Together with Lithuanian LNG terminal, we have enough reserves for winter
However, gas and electricity supplier Elering paints a less bleak picture.
Ain Köster, Elering's communications chief, told AK that the Lithuanian Liquefied Natural Gas (LNG) terminal at Klaipeda, along with the Incukalns reserve, will ensure Estonia's gas needs until its own, planned LNG terminal starts functioning.
Köster said: "In addition to the [capacity] percentage, one should also look at how large the volume of this storage is, or how large the amount in the storage is when compared with consumption. If we compare the amount of gas and consumption, the volume of our storage certainly does not look so bleak."
"The Lithuanian terminal and the Latvian storage nicely cover our current consumption. You might even say that the Lithuanian terminal largely covers the current consumption. Maybe we need to take gas from the Latvian storage as well. However, if we are also talking about the beginning of next year - spring and late winter, then we definitely need additional terminals, while the construction of the terminal is ongoing both in Estonia and in Finland," Köster added.
An LNG vessel containing the first consignment of LNG is en route from Argentina to Inkoo, southern Finland, while Finland and Estonia operate the Balticconnector gas pipeline which runs under the Gulf of Finland.
Work on Estonia's LNG terminal at Paldiski is also in progress and should be completed by year-end according to reports.
This would mean an LNG floating vessel could be moored either side of the Gulf of Finland.
Estonia's own annual natural gas needs stand at about 5TWh, of which 1TWh is being set aside as a state reserve.
Editor: Andrew Whyte