Finnish and Estonian power system operators are closing in on the malfunction of the Estlink 2 undersea power cable between the two countries, head of the Estonian TSO Elering Kalle Kilk told ERR, adding that the damage is almost certainly not deliberate.
The malfunction of the Estlink 2 cable was detected on January 26, while system operators Elering and Fingrid found a potential problem on the Estonian side of the cable two days later. For the past week and a half, the operators have been trying to pinpoint the exact location where the cable failed. Kilk said the sides are close to finding it now.
"The cable runs for 150 kilometers, we are now within 30 meters of where it failed," the CEO said.
Kilk also said that the malfunction is probably less than a kilometer from the coast.
Elering said that even though the cable was designed to last for decades, the fault is probably at a junction somewhere, suggesting that moisture may have damaged the cable, which suggests "not the best" work has been done.
The Elering head said that even though it cannot be completely ruled out that someone deliberately sabotaged the cable, it is 99.99 percent certain this is not the case.
Kilk added that it remains theoretically possible that the TSOs are not as close to the fault as they think in which case the cable would not come back online for a few months at least.
He said that signal diagnostics are the only way to find the faulty section of the cable, which makes for a complicated process that can take weeks.
No contact made with ship that damaged Balticconnector gas pipeline
Kilk said that he sees no similarities between Estlink malfunction and what happened to the Balticconnector gas pipeline. "The only thing they have in common is that they are links between countries and that they malfunctioned."
Regarding Balticconnector repair work, Kilk said that Elering has an agreement in place for a repair ship, its arrival date and the technical solution to be used. The gas pipeline is estimated to be repaired by April 22.
Estonia has not been able to contact the owners of Chinese vessel Newnew Poland Bear the anchor of which broke the pipeline.
"We want to file a damages claim, while I am not up to speed on the charges as the criminal investigation is being handled by the Finnish side."
Kilk added that not all details of the Balticconnector incident might be made public as they might include details of national security.
Editor: Marko Tooming, Marcus Turovski