Inčukalns underground gas storage works in maximum mode

Inčukalns underground gas storage in custody of the joint-stock company (JSC) “Conexus Baltic Grid” works in maximum mode. The management of the company has admitted that it can currently ensure the customers’ request for the natural gas only due to the experience of experts and previously introduced auction of entry capacities provision in Inčukalns Underground Gas Storage. The cold weather experienced in Latvia during the last week confirmed the opinion expressed previously by the company – filling of the storage in autumn is the only way how to ensure a stable supply of the region in winters.

The weather conditions of the last week have proven that in cold weather Russia will not be able no supply the natural gas to the Latvian consumers, emphasises Zane Kotāne, Chairperson of the board of JSC “Conexus Baltic Grid”.

“The current ambient temperature is far not the lowest experienced in Latvia. And although the cold weather lasts for a relatively short while – only a bit longer than a week – this is the moment that proves that the supply of natural gas from Russia in the event of a crisis or in cold weather will not be possible. As we can see from the last requests, Russia is not only technically unable to supply the natural gas to Latvian consumers, but it cannot fulfil its liabilities towards the customers in Estonia and Russia. So, the only solution to safely supply Latvia and also a wider region with natural gas in winter, is the filling of storage in autumn. When compared with the previous years, in 2017 the storage was filled with the historically lower volume of natural gas. I believe that a legal regulation prescribing not only the responsibility of system operator, but also the involvement of system users and sellers in the provision of stable supply of natural gas must be urgently elaborated. This moderately cold winter week has shown that we need to return once again to the issue about the introduction of the compulsory natural gas reserve in Latvia. This is also the moment when to “knock” at the doors of neighbouring countries by stating that they also have to participate in the creation of a regional supply security system because the Europe has a regulation assigning the Member States to elaborate such unified supply security models,” thinks Z. Kotāne.

On 27 February, the request of the clients for the supplies of natural gas from the storage received 166 thous. MWh by asking to provide the supplies to four countries – Latvia, Lithuania, Estonia and Russia. But the gas storage operator could ensure such volume to the clients only because of the timely planned auction of the entry capacities provision that was arranged by JSC “Conexus Baltic Grid” last year.

It must be admitted that such security solution is prepared and introduced thanks to the experience of company’s experts and study of solutions used in other countries being aware of the possible technical capacities provision risks in Latvian and Baltic gas supply.

If the storage was able to ensure the daily removal capacity of 190 thous. MWh in the middle of February, then now the removal technical capacity is already lower – 165 thous. MWh because the daily removal capacity of the storage depends directly on the remaining volume of natural gas in the storage. Currently, more than half of the natural gas being in the storage is the last lot of the provision auction. Without the booked natural gas amount of auction, the IPGK removal capacity were now only 81 thous. MWh that couldn’t satisfy event the request of Latvian market.

Z. Kotāne: “The world’s practice shows that 100% load of such large infrastructure objects as Inčukalns underground gas storage is not an acceptable solution neither during the suction, nor extraction period. Technical equipment needs a reserve of capacities that would provide that the system is able to ensure the whole request not only technically, but also guarantees additional capacities for emergency cases.

About JSC “Conexus Baltic Grid”

JSC „Conexus Baltic Grid” is a unified natural gas transmission and storage operator in Latvia. The company was set up in December 2016, when JSC „Latvijas Gāze” was reorganized due to following liberalization of the Latvian gas market on April 3, 2017, in accordance with the principles of regulated market established by the European Union (EU) Gas Directive and the Cabinet of Ministers. JSC „Conexus Baltic Grid” was handed over the natural gas infrastructure: the unified natural gas transmission system and Inčukalns underground gas storage.