Experts discuss LNG terminal construction in Latvia

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Latvia is planning to build a liquefied natural gas (LNG) terminal in Skulte. Industry experts discussed the pros and cons of the idea on the Latvian Television broadcast Kas notiek Latvijā? on April 21.

The Skulte terminal project, the first part of which was submitted to the Ministry of Economics on March 16, can be implemented in Latvia in a very short time – 8 to 9 months, said the General Director of Skulte LNG Terminal, Chairman of GasOn Board Renārs Miķelsons. According to him, a joint proposal with the US strategic partner was tabled last Tuesday.

It is technically possible to build a 34-kilometer pipeline within six months, for example, Germany has announced that a similar pipeline will be constructed by the end of this year. The US partner of the potential Skulte terminal has two projects that it has already carried out in six months, said Renārs Miķelsons.

"The American investor with a 10 billion capitalization will be here next week. They have signed on to commit to building the pipeline in 8 to 9 months' time," Renārs Miķelsons said.

On the other hand, Economics Minister Jānis Vitenbergs (National Alliance) said that the possibility of building a terminal so quickly was news for him because “potential investors in America have talked about 2024”.

Member of the Council of the Latvian Stevedores Association, Jānis Kasalis, said he had not seen any of the LNG projects in Latvia until now, so “we would like to understand at the outset what the rules of the game are”.

On the other hand, Aigars Kalvītis, Chairman of the Latvijas Gāze Board, called for talks at a professional level and pointed out that there is no real corresponding transmission capacity in any Latvian port. Liepāja's transmission has an insufficient diameter. Consequently, a new transmission from Dobeles to Liepaja should be constructed. In Riga, however, the Kundziņsala project is intended for entirely different purposes – there is no transmission system, as the planned terminal in Kundziņsala was intended to be entered into the “Gaso” distribution network. 

On the other hand, Renārs Miķelsons, general manager of “Skulte LNG Terminal”, proposed that Latvia take a leading role, implement the Skulte project and “overtake” Paldiski. "We just need to increase the level of ambition because we've always stood aside".

According to estimates by the Chairman of the Saeima Commission for Sustainable Development, Vjačeslavs Dombrovskis, three terminals for the Baltic States are too much. Only the Skulte terminal, if built, would cover nearly double the gas consumption of the Baltic States. He also stressed that it was quite clear that these terminals would not be constructed only privately. There must be state guarantees for capacity utilization, while all these payments will be passed on to consumers.


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