By Jari Tanner in Helsinki

HELSINKI (AP) — Finland and Estonia said Sunday that the undersea Balticconnector gas pipeline running between the two countries across the Baltic Sea was temporarily taken out of service due to a suspected leak.

Gasgrid Finland and Elering, the Finnish and Estonian gas system operators, said they noted an unusual drop in pressure in the pipeline shortly before 2 a.m. Sunday, after which they shut down the gas flow.

“Based on observations, it was suspected that the offshore pipeline between Finland and Estonia was leaking,” Gasgrid Finland said in a statement. “The valves in the offshore pipeline are now closed and the leak is thus stopped.”

The Finnish operator gave no reason for the suspected leak and said it was investigating the incident together with Elering. If it turns out that the detected pressure drop is due to a leak that has caused damage to the pipeline, repair work could take “at least several months” depending on the nature of the damage, according to Gasgrid Finland.

In September 2022, the Nord Stream gas pipelines running between Germany and Russia in the Baltic Sea were hit by explosions in an incident deemed to be a sabotage. A total of four gas leaks were discovered on the Nord Stream 1 and Nord Stream 2 pipelines. The case remains unsolved.

Gasgrid Finland said the Finnish gas system is stable and the supply of gas has been secured through the Inkoo floating LNG terminal, referring to the offshore support vessel Exemplar — a floating liquefied natural gas terminal at the southern Finnish port of Inkoo.

Elering said the accident did not affect the gas supply to Estonian consumers. After the shutdown of Balticconnector, gas for Estonian consumers was coming from Latvia, it said.

The pipeline is bi-directional, transferring natural gas between Finland and Estonia depending on demand and supply. Most of the gas that was flowing in the pipeline early Sunday before closure was going from Finland to Estonia from where it was forwarded to Latvia, Elering said.

The length of the offshore part of the Balticconnector running from Inkoo to the Estonian port of Paldiski is 77 kilometers (48 miles) long. The pipeline started commercial operations at the beginning of 2020.

Kai Mykkänen, Finland’s minister of climate and the environment, said the state of the Nordic country’s gas system remains stable despite the disruption of the pipeline that enables gas deliveries from Finland to the three Baltic states – Estonia, Latvia, Lithuania – and vice versa.

“The failure of the Balticconnector does not cause immediate problems for the security of energy supply. The causes of the pipe damage are being investigated and further actions will depend on them,” he said in a statement.

Finland and Estonia are both European Union and NATO members that border Russia and stopped importing Russian oil and gas since 2022, as part of sanctions against Moscow for its invasion of Ukraine.

 

News from © The Canadian Press, 2023. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

 

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