Ensuring Safe Operation and Maintaining Gas Supply Integrity in the Baltic - Finnish region
Gas transmission infrastructure plays a vital role in supplying gas in the Baltic - Finnish region, and maintaining its safe and reliable operation is of utmost importance. To ensure the gas transmission system's integrity, periodic inspection and maintenance works are necessary, as stipulated by technical maintenance regulations. These regulations define the scope and frequency of maintenance, inspection, and diagnostic works, aligning with equipment manufacturer instructions and regulatory requirements. Due to these reasons internal diagnostics and maintenance works for the Vireši-Tallinn and Riga-Panevėžys pipelines are included in the next year’s maintenance works plan. Accordingly, the upcoming diagnostic work is scheduled for 2023 on the Vireši-Tallinn pipeline, with diagnostics on the Riga-Panevėžys pipeline planned for 2024 that will result in limitations of interconnection capacities. These periodic tasks are integral to the overall Baltic - Finnish region gas supply system's proper functioning, including the Balticconnector. The Vireši-Tallinn gas pipeline was constructed between 1988 and 1990, therefore, regular maintenance and repair works are essential to ensure the pipeline's safe operation and reliability of the region's gas supply.
It is crucial to note that the maintenance of the Vireši-Tallinn pipeline was already cancelled in 2022 due to challenges in the regional gas supply situation with the gas delivery stop to Finland via Imatra, leading to a reduction in the allowable operating pressure in the Latvian gas transmission system. Subsequent postponements of the scheduled works are not possible.
Executing the necessary diagnostic work on the Vireši-Tallinn pipeline presents specific challenges, especially with regards to the technical capacity of the Balticconnector. To tackle these challenges, Conexus Baltic Grid has proposed conducting the diagnostic work in October 2023, with the aim of minimizing associated risks and potential impacts on regional gas supply security. Additionally, it has been decided to reschedule the inspection of identified defects from January 2024 to July 2024. In the exceptional situation where significant defects are discovered, an Urgent Market Message (UMM) will be promptly published, and repairs will have to be addressed on an unplanned basis. It is important to note that if the regional gas supply situation worsens, the planned diagnostic work can be temporarily halted to ensure immediate restoration of full capacity if needed.
The completion of repair works on the Vireši-Tallinn pipeline and the ongoing ELLI project is aiming to achieve the certification for the higher allowable operating pressure by the end of 2023. Once the regional infrastructure projects have been commissioned, the Balticconnector technical capacity will be re-assessed with the aim of increasing it from the current level.
The TSOs and LTOs have a common objective to develop further the process of Consolidated Maintenance Work Planning having the target to increase the level of predictability of the maintenance works to the extent possible and minimizing the impacts of the works to the market participants by deepening the regional co-operation even more in maintenance work scheduling. The TSOs and LTOs are about to develop a longer-term maintenance work plan which provides the tools to respond to the above-mentioned objectives better.