National gas reserve to be created

The Latvian government on March 28 approved a regulation entrusting the development of a natural gas security reserve to the operator of the natural gas transmission system (joint stock company Conexus Baltic Grid), the LETA newswire reported.

According to the Economics Ministry, the national gas security reserve is needed to supply natural gas to secured users at a time of energy crisis when regular natural gas supplies are interrupted.

"Judging from other European Union countries' experience, relying entirely on the free market's ability to ensure security of supplies is preferred by countries where natural gas is produced, for instance, Great Britain and Netherlands. During the next few years, natural gas supplies in Latvia will mostly be organized from the underground gas storage facility. That is why the transmission system operator (Conexus Baltic Grid) will be tasked with maintaining the reserve at the Incukalns underground gas storage facility," says the bill.

According to a study done by the European Commission's Joint Research Center in 2017, which looked at twelve different risk scenarios, any threat of gas supply disruptions in the Baltic region can be eliminated in two weeks by using alternative gas supply routes or liquidating the technical problem that caused the disruption.

The operator of natural gas transmission system will have to decide the amount of the reserve based on gas consumption estimates, season of the year, amount of gas available in the pipeline system and other factors. The operator will either create the reserve itself or purchase the natural gas amount necessary from a natural gas supplier.

Should a crisis occur, the operator of the transmission system will make the natural gas reserve available to the distribution system operator, which will then supply natural gas to households, schools, preschools, hospitals, telecommunication hubs, Emergency Medical Service, State Fire and Rescue Service, National Armed Forces, State Police, Border Guard, security institutions, water supply and sewerage stations, prisons, and others.

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