It will take at least five months to repair a Finland-Estonia gas pipeline, its operator said Wednesday, which will leave Finland totally dependent upon liquefied natural gas imports for the winter.
The repair estimate came a day after Finnish authorities said they suspected the leak that caused the weekend shutdown of the Balticconnector pipeline was caused by “external” activity, although they added it seemed unlikely that explosives were the cause.
Last year there were a series of underwater blasts that ruptured three pipelines that carried natural gas from Russia to Western Europe, at a time of high geopolitical tensions as Moscow cut gas supplies to Europe.
An investigation into the cause of the Finland-Estonia pipe leak, as well as the rupture of a telecommunications line that ran alongside it, is ongoing.
NATO chief Jens Stoltenberg on Wednesday pledged a strong response from the military alliance if it turns out damage to a pipeline between Finland and Estonia was a “deliberate attack”.
Both Finland and Estonia are NATO members.
Finland’s Gasgrid, which operates the Balticconnector pipeline, gave Wednesday its first estimate of how long it would remain out of commission.
“Based on preliminary expert assessments, it can be assumed that the planning of the repair work… will last at least five months,” said Finland’s Gasgrid, which operates the Balticconnector pipeline.
The Balticconnector has been the only gas import channel to Finland, apart from liquefied natural gas (LNG), since Russian imports were halted in May 2022, following Moscow’s invasion of Ukraine.
Gasgrid said Tuesday that country’s sole LNG terminal had “the capacity and the ability to deliver the gas Finland needs in the coming winter”, even though consumption is usually higher in winter.