Partners from both sides of the Gulf of Finland are being sought to investigate the Balticconnector gas link leak between Estonian and Finnish gas infrastructures. Elering told ERR that a deliberate gas pipeline breakdown is also possible.
The Balticconnector gas link between Estonia and Finland has been shut down due to a possible leak after the pressure in a subsea pipeline dropped in the early hours of Sunday morning, prompting Estonian and Finnish system operators to halt gas flow.
Ain Köster, the director of communications for Elering, told ERR on Monday that there is presently no details about what went wrong and where.
"There appears to be a gas leak; I don't know right now where it is. We know it's in the sea, but we have no idea where it is or what caused it," he explained.
According to Köster, preparations are being made to study the seafloor and determine the cause of the problem.
"We are trying to figure out with potential partners which one of them can go first and what equipment is available," he said.
Gasgrid Finland, the Finnish gas network operator, is currently doing the same. "It's a creative endeavor, so to speak, whoever is the first to begin, or whoever has the better equipment, can also investigate for the neighbors, but we'll prepare the activities in parallel and determine the course of action as we go along," Köster said.
Köster could not say how long it would take to locate the leak. "Let's hope it's a matter of days," he said.
Intentional destruction cannot be ruled out
Elering has ideas about what could have happened, which Köster says are being considered. "It's more likely that it's an exterior damage, but I wouldn't speculate. The drop in pressure suggests something, but it's best to go check it out," he said.
When asked if it could have been a planned gas pipe explosion, Köster said that all possibilities are on the table and nothing can be ruled out. He refused to comment on the potential of a security services intervention.
Security of supply is good
The fact that the Balticconnector is out of order will not have a major impact on gas supply in Estonia and the region, Köster said.
"The gas currently comes into Estonia from Latvia, where there is an underground storage facility that is currently nearly full. That's enough to supply the three Baltic states for quite a long time. In addition, there is also a terminal in Lithuania (Klaipeda), from where gas can be brought in. I know that the Latvian storage should be filling up, as more gas is coming into the region than is being consumed here," he said.
It is not possible to say how long it will take to repair a gas pipe until the size of the leak is determined.
"Latvia's storage is almost full, enough for the Baltic states for a year I think, maybe more. So there is no sign of a gas shortage at the moment," Köster said.
The situation is more serious for the Finns, who currently get all their gas from the floating terminal.
Editor: Kristina Kersa