Finland’s Gasgrid cuts planned LNG import slots

Finland’s Gasgrid has reduced the number of planned LNG import slots for the April-September period at the country’s first FSRU-based facility in the port of Inkoo.

Excelerate Energy’s 150,900-cbm FSRU Exemplar has a regasification capacity of more than 5 billion cubic meters per year and started supplying regasified LNG to the grid on December 29 as part of the commissioning phase.

Gasgrid said in January that that the FSRU-based facility, which connects to a 2.2 km long gas transmission pipeline, was ready to start commercial operations.

Three slots available

In December last year, Gasgrid offered in total 14 terminal slots of about 1,000 GWh for the second and the third quarter of 2023.

Eesti Gas, a unit of Estonian investment firm Infortar, is the first customer and will bring in total seven shipments via Finland’s LNG facility in the port of Inkoo this year.

The LNG terminal enables gas deliveries to the Baltic states and even Poland via the Balticconnector pipeline.

Gasgrid said in a statement released this week that it has reduced the total number of planned slots for the second and the third quarter from 14 to 10 due to “limitation of transmission capacity in Balticconnector and expected market demand.”

Out of these 10 slots, three spot slots are free for reservations.

Floating LNG terminal Finland, a unit of Gasgrid and the operator of the terminal, is inviting firms to submit bids for the remaining slots.

The firm is offering slots of 950 GWh for April, August, and September.

Increased gas demand

Gasgrid said in a separate statement that cold weather and decreased gas prices increased the use of gas in the last week of February in Finland.

Gas volumes transported through the Balticconnector interconnection point mainly covered demand coming from energy production, industry, and retail market customers, it said.

However, the interconnection point was heavily congested towards entry direction from Estonia towards Finland during the last week of February, Gasgrid said.

The aggregated nominations were up to 6-8 times bigger than the capacity allocated to the bilateral trading which equaled the capacity of 54 GWh/day.

“During several gas days there was strong indication that gas consumption would have resulted in a significantly higher level than imports to the Finnish gas system,” the firm said.

“As a transmission system operator with system responsibility (TSO), Gasgrid Finland performed balancing actions to control the physical and commercial balance of the Finnish gas system,” it said.

According to the firm, the balancing actions successfully steered market participants to balance their positions.

“If the differences between entries and exits would have continued for a longer time, in a worst case scenario it could have resulted in a situation where gas supplies for the protected gas customers would have been compromised,” it said.

As a preventive measure to reduce risks, the National Supply Security Agency (NESA) decided to offer LNG through the GET Baltic gas exchange to the Finnish gas market, Gasgrid said.

During this time period, the entry capacity of Balticconnector was fully booked and the Hamina LNG terminal was not in use due to technical issues, it said.

Market manipulation

Last week temperatures were milder and the congestion at Balticconnector temporarily eased, but starting from March 6, Balticconnector has been heavily congested again, it said.

Due to the large nominations that, in total, exceed the Balticconnector technical capacity allocated for bilateral trading many times, as well as the significant exit nominations that took place during several gas days, Gasgrid said it forwarded “all suspicious actions to the Finnish Energy Authority for evaluation to identify possible illegal market manipulation.”

Gasgrid and Energiavirastoy will also evaluate the adequacy of the terms and conditions of the Balticconnector capacity allocation mechanism and assess the need to update the terms and conditions, the firm said.

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