The start of Baltic Connector’s construction phase was celebrated on 8 June 2018 in Inkoo on the compressor station worksite with the Groundbreaking Ceremony. The event brought together decision makers, constructors, consultants, contractors and other stakeholders who are an important part of the project and have made it possible for the project to progress to the construction phase on schedule.
The Groundbreaking Ceremony was attended also by the European Commission Vice President for Jobs, Growth, Investment and Competitiveness Jyrki Katainen; Minister of the Environment, Energy and Housing of Finland Kimmo Tiilikainen; and Minister of Economic Affairs and Infrastructure of Estonia Kadri Simson.
Gas infrastructure for creating a competitive gas market
Baltic Connector is a gas pipeline that connects Finland and Estonia and links the Finnish and Baltic gas markets, enabling their integration with the EU’s common energy market. The Baltic Connector gas pipeline project plays a major role in the energy strategies of Finland and the EU and improves regional security of supply by diversifying gas sources. The project creates a framework for market opening and growth and enables the use of alternative sources, such as liquefied natural gas (LNG) and biogas.
The total cost of the project is €250 million. The project would not have proceeded without considerable support from the EU. In August 2016, the European Commission granted funding of €187.5 million to the project, covering 75% of the project’s funding.
“We celebrate a project that has made solid progress and is one of Europe’s several ongoing energy projects designed to help us improve Europe’s internal gas markets. The completion of Baltic Connector and other gas infrastructure projects ensures that Finland and the Baltic countries are genuinely integrated with the EU’s common energy market. This connection opens the gas market for competition, increasing security of supply and energy security in the whole of Europe,” said Jyrki Katainen, Vice President of the European Commission.
Opening of the natural gas market in Finland in 2020 enables competition, bringing new actors to the branch. As the Baltic Connector gas pipeline is bi-directional, it enables also the export of gas products.
“The Baltic Connector pipeline gives Finland the opportunity to open its natural gas market to the competition. It also allows us to gradually join the European natural gas network and the EU’s common natural gas market. We are looking forward to the completion of the pipeline. In Finland, the necessary legislation entered into force already at the start of this year,” says Minister of the Environment, Energy and Housing Kimmo Tiilikainen.
Good co-operation is the project’s cornerstone
Baltic Connector Oy is responsible for the Finnish part of the project, and Elering AS for the Estonian part. Both companies are wholly owned by the Finnish and the Estonian states. The offshore Baltic Connector pipeline is constructed from Inkoo in Finland to Paldiski in Estonia. The Baltic Connector project will comprise the construction of pipelines, stations, and systems to connect the existing gas networks in Finland and Estonia.
“This is not just the cornerstone of the Estonian-Finnish gas interconnector we are laying. This common Estonian-Finnish event once again emphasises well-functioning co-operation between two countries in energy sector. I’m quite sure that Baltic Connector is not the last offshore infrastructure facility joining two countries over the Gulf of Finland. It is not possible to predict exact timing but I’m convinced that one day we have a good reason to come together again and celebrate completion of the Tallinn-Helsinki tunnel,” says Kadri Simson, Minister of Economic Affairs and Infrastructure, Estonia.
“The developing regional market will benefit all natural gas users in the eastern Baltic Sea region and open the Nordic power market to the Baltic states. The new pipeline will create more options for purchasing gas and increase the security of natural gas supply. I also hope that the better supply of natural gas will replace other fossil fuels in Finland and thereby help us to reach our climate targets. Special thanks for the pipeline are due to our Estonian partners and the European Commission for its strong commitment to the project. Baltic Connector is an excellent example of deepening cooperation between Estonia and Finland. Now we are opening a common natural gas market, and next perhaps a tunnel connecting our two countries,” Minister Tiilikainen says.
21 km of the pipeline will be constructed in Finland, 77 km under the sea, and 55 km in Estonia. The gas pipeline is bi-directional, and its transmission capacity is 7.2 million m3/d of gas. The pipeline route takes account of the area’s current and future land use, planning, and environmental considerations. It is based on minimising the impact of any adverse effects on people, organisms, and the environment during the construction and operation of the pipeline.
“I would like to thank everyone who made it possible for the project to progress the construction phase and the people who have gathered here to celebrate this milestone with us. Gas has a significant role in the European energy policy, and it is the first step in reducing emissions when abandoning the use of coal. Hereby, we have once again taken a step towards a carbon-neutral society as part of the common European gas market,” says Herkko Plit, CEO and President of Baltic Connector Oy.