Latvian gas transmission company insists pipeline repair work must go ahead in May

Latvia's unified natural gas and transmission system operator Conexus Baltic Grid JSC (Conexus) has defended its decision to carry out pipeline repair work in May, despite strong criticism from other regional gas companies who claim it will cost them millions of euros and might result in legal action, as previously reported by LSM.

"Repairs in gas pipeline Vireši – Tallinn at Valmiera is an issue of gas supply security, because gas pipeline defects of high security are detected in the system which may cause emergency situations and gas supply interruption for Valmiera," Conexus told LSM in an English-language news release.

"Conexus states that system users are timely informed of the planned repairs complying with the obligation of timely publishing of information stipulated in normative acts, including the interaction of gas transmission system operators with the aim to reduce the impact on capacities available to system users. Conexus arranges regularly planned meetings with system users and has familiarized all system users with the planned repairs already in October 2019.
Besides, the short-term restrictions don’t stop completely the gas supply to Finland and Estonia, because both countries have alternative delivery routes," the company said.

Conexus also went into some detail about the reasons it beieves the repairs cannot be postponed, explaining: "The pipeline Vireši-Tallinn was constructed from 1988 to 1990, and pipeline with unsuccessful anticorrosion insulation solution were used during the construction process, which, according to experts, can function fully for maximum 15 years. Conexus regularly performs diagnostics of its pipeline and follows the whole gas supply network. The defects in the pipeline Vireši-Tallinn pose high risk and, if increasing the operating pressure in the gas pipeline, these defects can cause emergency situation and subsequent interruption of natural gas supply to Valmiera, and prevent Inčukalns Underground Gas Storage to be used in natural gas supply to Estonia and Finland." 

If pipeline repairs are not performed, it would be necessary to reduce the operating pressure in the pipeline, "and in the result the possibility to use it in supply to Estonia and Finland would be even smaller than in winter season 2019/2020," the company said.

“We reckoned with that the decision on repairs could create  dissatisfaction, however business interests and security of Latvian gas supply system were put in scales. Our responsibility and duty is to guarantee the system security, so we cannot ignore the report on the condition of Vireši-Tallinn gas pipeline and faults established in it," Conexus said.

"This has also minimum influence on the pumping season, because Finnish consumers can use Balticconnector from June to plan their pumping activities. I ask all system users to treat responsibly the short-term operational rearrangements,” said Zane Kotāne, Chairperson of Board of Conexus.

Repairs on the Vireši – Tallinn pipeline will be commenced on 1 May and "stage one" will be completed on 31 May.

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