The liquefied natural gas (LNG) terminal in the Finnish port town of Inkoo will from Friday accept applications for slots totaling 5,600 gigawatt hours (gWh) to fill capacity left vacant by the suspension of the Balticconnector pipeline, the operator announced Wednesday.
Seven slots will open with a capacity of 800 gWh each and a duration of about two weeks each for terminaling schedules from December 14, 2023 to April 6, 2024, Gasgrid Finland Oy said in a press release on its website.
Unsold capacity for the fourth quarter of 2023 originally not covered by joint-use principles, which allow for the borrowing and lending of LNG between users, has been converted to six joint-use slots. As a result, no joint-use contracts will be offered for the first quarter of 2024. A seventh slot with a start schedule of March 20, 2024 and an end schedule of April 6, 2024, reserved for next year’s annual capacity allocation, will be simultaneously offered for the four-day application window closing this Monday.
Under state-owned Gasgrid’s scheduling rules, joint terminal users may lend or borrow LNG on a zero-interest basis during the contract term.
The unsold slots for the fourth quarter of 2023 would normally be offered as late spot slots not covered by joint-use principles. But following the leak-induced suspension of Balticconnector, the Finnish Energy Authority on October 18 approved temporary changes in the Inkoo floating LNG facility’s rules to ensure that unsold capacity is offered “in a fair and nondiscriminatory way”, Gasgrid said in a news release Friday.
“One of the temporary changes to the Terminal Rules is the inclusion of unsold Q4/2023 capacity to Q1/2024 joint use”, Friday’s announcement stated. “This means that unsold capacity in Q4/2023, that under normal rules would be seen as Late Spot Slots and not part of Joint Use, will now be converted to Spot Slots and Joint Use principles will be applied for the full period starting from 14th of December 2023 to 7th of April 2024.
“In addition, no slots in Q1/2024 will convert into Late Spot Slots even if remained unsold until a stage where they would under normal rules be treated as Late Spot Slots”.
In Wednesday’s announcement, Gasgrid detailed, “The slot sizes for the winter period are calculated and based on 800GWh cargoes.
“The delivery windows have been matched to fit said 800GWh cargoes based on the assessed gas usage with a flat average profile”.
But subject to Gasgrid’s acceptance, users may request to deliver cargo sizes below the maximum capacity of 800 gWh per delivery.
However, “[t]he minimum cargo size cannot be below the Terminal Users maximum net borrowed amount towards other Joint Terminal Users”, the operator said.
Gasgrid and Balticconnector co-owner Elering AS, an Estonian state-owned company, announced a temporary shutdown of the Baltic Sea gas pipeline October 8, reporting a leak from a suspected damage.
Gasgrid confirmed the damage October 10 and on October 13 said recommissioning would take until April 2024.
The 152-kilometer (94.45-mile) pipeline, which launched into commercial operation 2020, has a declared capacity of 7.2 million cubic meters (254.27 million cubic feet) of gas per day. While Balticconnector is bidirectional, most of the gas arriving in Estonia from Finland is forwarded to Latvia, according to Elering.
Gasgrid and Elering assured the suspension would not affect gas supply stability in their respective markets.
“The situation of the Finnish gas system is stable, and the supply of gas from the LNG terminal in Inkoo has been secured”, Gasgrid said in a news release October 10 confirming the damage.
“The terminal has the capacity and the ability to deliver the gas Finland needs, including in the coming winter, even though gas consumption is typically higher in winter seasons”, Gasgrid added.
Elering also said October 8 in its announcement of the leak incident, “The accident does not affect the gas supply to Estonian consumers”.
“After the shutdown of Balticconnector, gas reaches Estonian consumers from Latvia”, Elering said at the time.
The LNG facility in Inkoo, about 37 miles from the Finnish capital of Helsinki, began commercial operation January 2023, serving not only Finland but also Estonia, Latvia, Lithuania and Poland, according to Gasgrid. It is the first LNG depot in a country that does not have natural gas production, according to the company.
“The LNG terminal vessel proved to be the fastest and most effective solution to break away from dependence on Russian gas in Finland and to ensure the continuity of Finnish and Baltic gas supplies in various scenarios well into the future”, Gasgrid wrote in a news release March 3.
“This was the first time a terminal vessel intended for processing liquefied natural gas had been brought to Finland”, it added then.
The project received its first LNG cargo April 2, supplied from a plant of Venture Global Calcasieu Pass LLC in the USA state of Louisiana, as announced by carrier Vitol Group April 5.
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