Investigation launches over suspected leak on European offshore gas pipeline

Finnish and Estonian transmission system operators (TSOs) Gasgrid Finland and Elering have launched an investigation over suspicion that there is a leak in an offshore gas pipeline that connects the two countries.

Gasgrid Finland and Elering observed an unusual drop in pressure in the Balticconnector offshore gas pipeline on October 8, shortly before 2 a.m.

Based on the abnormal pressure drop, a leak in the pipe was suspected, and the decision to isolate the pipe section could be made based on the observation. The valves were closed and thus the supposed leak was stopped.

The TSOs are preparing an operation to investigate the cause of the suspected leak and locate the possible leak point. The necessary preliminary measures have been initiated, and the plan is to carry out actual inspection measures soon.

If it appears that the pressure drop observed is due to a leak caused damage to the pipe, repair work may take at least several months depending on the nature of the damage, Gasgrid said.

Gasgrid Finland has assessed the extent of gas released in the suspected leak and will report the results to environmental authorities in accordance with the Environmental Protection Act after the results are confirmed.

According to the Finnish TSO, the situation in the Finnish gas market has remained stable, and the supply of gas has been secured through the Inkoo LNG floating terminal which has the capacity and ability to deliver the gas Finland needs in the coming winter as well.

Balticconnector is the first gas pipeline between Finland and Estonia. The project, which entered into commercial use at the start of 2020, ends Finland’s isolation from the EU gas market and helps ensure the energy security of supply in the region. 

The works comprised the construction of three pipeline sections, including the 21-kilometer-long onshore pipeline in Finland, the 77-kilometer-long offshore pipeline, and the 54-kilometer-long onshore pipeline in Estonia as well as the installation of a pressure reduction station in Estonia and compressor and metering stations in both countries.

The 152-kilometer-long gas pipeline is bi-directional and has a transmission capacity of 7.2 million cubic meters of gas per day.