Minister of Foreign Affairs Urmas Reinsalu (Isamaa) said that at the Thursday government meeting it was decided that Minister of Economic Affairs Riina Sikkut (SDE) will prepare an analysis of the feasibility of acquiring an LNG vessel for Paldiski for the current and the next heating seasons.
Even after the government meeting, Reinsalu is critical of Estonia's withdrawal from the spring agreement with Finland to bring an LNG vessel (FSRU) to the port, where the reception capacity would be built first.
"My suggestion is that the Minister of Economic Affairs take a clear stance on the proposals and their evaluation for bringing an LNG carrier to Paldiski for both the current and upcoming seasons. Government members have agreed that the Minister will present this study as soon as possible. She (Sikkut - ed.) made no objections to this," Reinsalu said.
Reinsalu continued that the substantive side of the analysis would most likely be carried out by the Estonian Stockpiling Agency (Eesti Varude Keskus, or ESPA).
Reinsalu suggested that Sikkut assess how quickly this analysis can be completed and whether any additional winter decisions can be made based on its findings.
"We did not specify a timeframe, but we expect it to arrive without delay. If the government decides to take action based on this review during the heating season, it should do so as soon as possible."
Reinsalu declined to comment on whether the state could finance Paldiski's LNG vessel. A ten-year lease on an LNG vessel cost the Finns €500 million. Before considering the state's options, Reinsalu suggested that the minister of economic affairs assess the potential cost and duration of the lease for Estonia.
Reinsalu expressed concern that, as a minister, he had only learned of the LNG ship through the media. Now, he said, it should be clear what rights Estonia will have on the ship bound for Finland, and how far the EU rules allow us to be treated differently. He stated that this is primarily a matter for the Finnish competition authorities.
ERR journalist Indrek Kiisler asked whether Timo Tatar, the deputy secretary general for energy, who oversaw Estonia's energy policy for many years and during the tenures of both ministers, is not the real culprit behind the political accusations that Minister Sikkut or her predecessor Taavi Aas are responsible for the cancellation of the agreement with Finland. Reinsalu responded that the respective minister should determine this.
However, Minister Reinsalu expressed worry over the fact that Russia continues to ship LNG to Finland and from there to Estonia, even though having discontinued its pipeline gas supply to Finland. Reinsalu said that Minister Sikkut should be much more determined to end this practice.
Editor: Kristina Kersa