With offshore repairs soon to begin, Balticconnector restart set for April

Offshore repair works for the Balticconnector gas pipeline between Finland and Estonia, which was shut down in October 2023 due to a rupture, are set to start at the beginning of next month.

Estonian transmission system operator (TSO) Elering and its Finnish counterpart Gasgrid closed Balticconnector on the night of October 8, 2023, as the pressure in the gas pipeline began to drop rapidly, indicating a leak. A few days later, it was reported that the gas pipeline had broken due to external damage in Finland’s economic zone.

Finland’s National Bureau of Investigation (NBI) clarified the cause of the damage, stating that the Newnew Polar Bear vessel, flying the flag of Hong Kong, is believed to have caused it, after an anchor was found a few meters from the gas pipeline damage point.

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Preparations for the repair of the gas connection have progressed according to plan in cooperation between Elering and Gasgrid, and the repair work at sea is expected to start at the beginning of March.

According to Elering, the materials needed for the repair have been prepared and the key partners have been selected. The planned commissioning date of the gas connection is April 22, provided that the soon-to-be-started repair works can be carried out as planned. Based on the current assessment, icy conditions do not prevent the work from being carried out.

The planned duration of the repair works is four weeks, after which Balticconnector will be inspected and commissioned, however, if the weather conditions become more difficult, the work will have to be paused, which may delay the completion of the repairs.

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.

At the end of 2023, Gasgrid and Elering revealed an increase in the technical capacity of the Balticconnector interconnection point, which will come after the recommissioning of the pipeline, and completion of inspection and maintenance works in the Estonian-Latvian system.