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Minister promises solution for FSRU and quay link issue

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

Minister of Economic Affairs and Infrastructure Riina Sikkut (SDE) said on the "Otse uudistemajast" webcast that the issue of the linking arm between an FSRU and the mooring quay is a technical one and can be solved in public-private cooperation.

Host Anvar Samost asked Sikkut why private enterprises Alexela and Infortar cannot achieve a satisfactory agreement with TSO Elering for connecting LNG to the Estonian gas grid, with the row between the two sides getting worse.

"I do not agree that the row is getting worse. We have the quay, we have the pipeline connection. Major steps have been taken. Now, we need to take the final one. /.../ It may be difficult to agree, while it needs to be done," Sikkut offered.

The minister urged the sides to resolve their differences behind the negotiating table and not via the media.

PM Kaja Kallas (Reform) suggested over the weekend that the row over bringing a floating storage and regasification unit (FSRU) to Estonia between the businessmen and Elering might follow the former asking the TSO for more money for constructing the mooring quay.

"Kaja Kallas quite directly accused Alexela owner and manager Marti Hääl of lying, suggesting that what the company has said about an FSRU is aimed squarely at driving up the price of the quay and constitutes nothing more than negotiating tactics," Samost said.

The host asked whether Alexela and Marti Hääl are lying when they suggest they have an FSRU to bring to Estonia.

"I can neither confirm nor refute that. They would have more information on that," Sikkut replied.

Sikkut said that the marine loading arm (MLA) needed to link the FSRU to the quay infrastructure does not constitute a major expense. "The important thing is getting the right connector for gas to reach the pipes. It can only be solved in cooperation," Sikkut remarked.

"These are specific accessories that we will need to either rent, buy or construct, depending on how long the FSRU will stop here," Sikkut said, adding that setting up the arm could take two or three weeks.

"For example, Finland rented its FSRU for ten years. It will moor and spend ten years connected to the grid before leaving again if the contract is not renewed. And if the FSRU is there for a decade, so will the arm. This would be the same for Estonia."

"It is a technical matter," the minister said. She disagreed when Samost suggested Elering has done everything in its power to torpedo bringing an FSRU to Estonia. "I have not been left with that impression," she said, adding that she has no reason to doubt the capability or willingness to cooperate of Elering CEO Taavi Veskimägi and ministry undersecretary Timo Tatar.

Samost asked Sikkut directly whether Estonia wants to have LNG regasification capacity. The minister said once more that Estonia has no reason not to seek it.

ERR News wrote on Tuesday that while Alexela and Infortar want to bring an FSRU to Paldiski this winter, the missing marine loading arm makes it impossible to have LNG regasification capacity there by the end of November. TSO Elering maintains that it was tasked only with building the pipeline connection and that the loading arm should have been part of the terminal constructed by the companies.

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Editor: Barbara Oja, Toomas Pott, Marcus Turovski

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