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Estonia Never Needed to Import Gas by Ship. Until It Did.

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An abandoned Soviet-era bunker in Paldiski, Estonia, is strewn with graffiti and overgrown with weeds, a reminder of the centuries-old Russian domination over the Baltic region.

Now this port city in the northwest corner of the country is hastily transformed into a bulwark against Russian efforts to politically pressure Europe. Since Moscow threatened to withhold natural gas in retaliation for countries opposing an invasion of Ukraine, Paldiski workers have been building his offshore terminal for non-Russian gas around the clock.

The project is one of Europe’s strategies to rapidly wean itself from the energy of Russia, which heats homes and powers factories across the continent.

The Estonian terminal will serve as a floating dock for a huge processing tanker that receives liquefied natural gas deliveries and converts them into steam that can be piped through existing networks serving the Baltics and Finland. Due to be completed in November, Paldiski will be the first new he LNG terminal completed in Europe since the war began.

Liquefying and transporting natural gas has become Europe’s definitive solution to what the European Commission has dubbed “energy extortion” by Russian President Vladimir V. Putin. Since the fighting began in late February, 18 new facilities or expansions of existing facilities have been proposed in 11 European countries, including Germany, the Netherlands, Italy and Greece, according to Rystad Energy.

European leaders middle east When Africa — contains some Country Due to human rights violations, it was previously held at a distance to compete for the world’s limited LNG supply or to call for the rapid development of additional sources. Before the war, China, South Korea and Japan were our biggest customers.

James Huckstepp, Head of European Gas Analysis at S&P Global Commodity Insights, said amid the shift to more climate-friendly renewable energy sources, “LNG is really the only supply component that can be strengthened over the next few years.” I’m here.

The US and Qatar, the largest producers of LNG, are ramping up operations, but that will take time. at least a few years Greatly increase capacity. So businesses and homes are preparing for price hikes and painful shortages during the cold winter months. Governments have drawn up emergency plans to cut consumption and ration energy amid gloom warnings of social unrest.

Marti Haal, founder and chairman of Estonian energy group Alexela, shook his head at the frenzied race to build a liquefied natural gas terminal. He and his brother Haiti proposed construction more than 12 years ago, arguing that relying solely on Russia for natural gas was dangerous for any country.

“If you spoke to anyone in Estonia in 2009 and 2010, they’d call me and my brother stupid for pursuing it,” Haar said. Driving a limited edition Brit Mustang No. 694, he drove to the terminal site in Paldiski, which his company is currently building. He slows down and points out the boundaries of the Restricted Zone that existed before the Soviet troops left in 1994. nuclear training center and surrounded by barbed wire.

As he drives, Haar recalls discussions about building LNG receiving terminals.

Today the brothers look like visionaries. “If they had listened to us back then, we wouldn’t have had to run like crazy now to fix the problem,” Haar said.

Mr Haar, who competed in the regatta that morning, always had an entrepreneurial spirit, even under communism. In 1989, after the dissolution of the Soviet Union, he and his brothers began manufacturing and selling car trailers. Haar said he would drag one onto a ferry to Finland and hand it over to a buyer in the port of Helsinki because the fare would be too expensive to transport by car. He collected the cash and came back to pay everyone’s salaries.

When they started selling gas, they named the company Alexela (Palindrome). This required him to put up only one sign that drivers could read from both directions.

Their LNG venture looked like a failure at one point. After all, there were millions of dollars and years of frustration when Estonia and Finland agreed in April to share the cost of renting her LNG processing vessel and building a floating terminal. , preliminary research and development had already taken place.

In the months leading up to Russia’s invasion, high gas prices had already begun to change the economics of investing in LNG terminals, Haar said. His main concern now is ensuring that the Estonian government can complete the pipeline connection to the national gas network on time.

Over the years, the issue of building more LNG facilities has been repeatedly discussed in ports and capitals, in addition to the 20 or so facilities already in Europe. Opponents argued that shipping cooled and liquefied natural gas was much more expensive than the flow from Russia.The required new infrastructure of port terminals and pipes sparked local opposition. There was also reluctance to invest heavily in fossil fuels, with the climate pact targeting eventual extinction.

One country that said no was Germany, Europe’s largest economy, which sourced 55% of its gas from Russia.

Nina Howell, partner at law firm King and Spalding, said: “The general view was that Europe had more LNG capacity than it needed. After the invasion, it was deemed commercially viable. The project, which did not, “probably would not have succeeded, but suddenly received government support”.

Estonia shares a 183-mile border with Russia and is actually the least gas dependent country in Europe. About three-quarters of Estonia’s energy supply is domestic oil shaleincreasing independence but lagging behind climate targets.

Yet, like other former Soviet republics Lithuania and Latvia, as well as former communist countries like Poland, Estonia has always been more cautious of Russian power plays.

Two days before the war began, Estonia’s prime minister Scolded “Countries that do not border Russia” because they do not consider the risks of depending on Russian energy.

In contrast, Poland moved to exit Russia’s natural gas, and in 2013 pipeline We deliver supplies from Norway. It is scheduled to be completed in October. Lithuania used to receive her 100% of its supply through one of her pipelines from Russian monopoly Gazprom, but in 2014, when Russia annexed Crimea, she built her own tiny LNG terminal. has been completed.

Liquefied natural gas terminals are not the only energy source European countries once neglected and are now forced to explore. The European Parliament last month reclassified some gas and nuclear power plants as ‘green’. The Netherlands is reconsidering fracking. And Germany is restarting coal-fired power plants and even rethinking its firm rejection of nuclear energy.

In Paldiski, giant wind turbines line the coast of the Pakuri peninsula. A strong gust of wind that day not only spun the blades, but also stopped work on the floating terminal. A huge tracked excavator was parked on the sand. At the end of a long-framed pier, the top of a 200-foot-long steel pipe slammed into the seafloor protruded above the water like a skyline of rust-colored chimneys.

Ice-free all year round and with direct access to the Baltic Sea, Paldiski Gulf has always been an important commercial and strategic gateway. Generations before the Soviet Union stationed nuclear submarines. Russian Tsar Peter the Great built a military fortress and port in the 18th century.

Now the Gulf is playing a similar role again, but this time not for Russia.

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