Minister: Building LNG reception capacity is strategically necessary

Riina Sikkut.
Riina Sikkut. Source: Ken Mürk/ERR

It is strategically necessary to build Liquified Natural Gas (LNG) reception capacity in Estonia, said Minister of Economic Affairs and Infrastructure Riina Sikkut (SDE) on Monday evening. She reiterated security of supply is guaranteed even if something happens to the Balticconnector pipeline.

Speaking on Monday's "Aktuaalne kaamera" (AK) after it was reported the LNG vessel, also known as a floating storage regasification unit, would be docking in Finland and not Estonia later this year, Sikkut reiterated Estonia's energy supply is still guaranteed.

This still stands if something happens to the undersea pipeline Balticconnector, which runs between Finland and Estonia, she told the show.

"For Finland, Balticconnector is the only connection, for Estonia, it is not. I can understand the feeling that it is like a football match or Eurovision to see who wins and gets the ship. [But] there has never been a competition for the ship," the politician said, saying it was simply an agreement to create security of supply between the two countries.

"And, as Eesti Gaas has also confirmed, it is important for security of supply that there is a ship, whatever side of the Gulf of Finland," she told AK.

Estonia also receives gas from Latvia and Lithuania's LNG terminal, not only from its pipeline with Finland.

Asked if the supply is guaranteed from Latvia, Sikkut said if Balticconnector is not working then it will be due to an extraordinary event, such as an attack.

"Then really, this would not be a normal situation, different arrangements would have to be made with our neighbors," she said.

The announcement that the LNG vessel would dock in Finland, came as a surprise to some. But officials have said it has been known since the summer the ship would initially go to Finland, not Estonia.

Sikkut was asked why this was not made clear earlier. She said the situation had changed in Finland and denied she kept the result quiet.

Asked why she did not tell Infortar, one of the companies building the terminal at Paldiski, and if the structure is still necessary, she said it is still beneficial for Estonia. It is also a good example of private-public partnership.

She said Paldiski harbor also has good conditions, such as easier navigation and an ice-free port, so it gives the country a good backup option.

"This is a security of supply project for Estonia. But in addition to that, both this winter and also next winter, gas will be a business in Europe. There are no restrictions on the fact that a gas trader or anyone else could bring a ship to the end of the quay in Estonia," she said.

Asked if there is really a need for a third LNG terminal or storage ship in the region and why she had raised the idea in the first place, she agreed forecasts suggest there is currently enough gas in the Baltics and Finland this winter.

"But gas and consumers are not necessarily in the same place at the same time. Estonia will be in a disadvantageous situation if we do not have LNG reception capacity, [if] we do not have storage. So creating reception capacity is a strategic necessity for the country," she said.

Sikkut called herself a "risk-averse person" adding risk needs to be mitigated in the current security situation.


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Editor: Helen Wright

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