The lockdown and operating restrictions in place in Lithuania due to the COVID-19 pandemic have not affected the construction of the Gas Interconnection Poland-Lithuania (GIPL), reported the Ministry of Energy.
As planned, this interconnection, which will not only benefit Lithuania but all of the gas market participants in the region as well, will be completed by the end of 2021, with almost two-thirds of the construction work planned for this year.
“One of the largest energy projects in Lithuania in recent time – the construction of the GIPL gas pipeline between Lithuania and Poland – is proceeding according to schedule,” said the Minister of Energy Žygimantas Vaičiūnas, after visiting the GIPL construction site near Kernavė. “By concentrating, organising work properly and adhering to all safety requirements, it has been possible to work without stopping for a single day during the seven weeks of lockdown. The goal, therefore, remains the same: two-thirds of this gas pipeline must be built this year.”
The GIPL will connect the Baltic and Finnish gas markets with Poland, as well as with the European Union, which is financing a significant part of the project. The new gas route is not just about ensuring energy supply security. Its benefits, together with all of the developed energy infrastructure, including the Klaipėda liquefied natural gas terminal, interconnections between countries and opening of the Finnish gas market, will also bring economic benefits and be reflected in the price of gas.
Under favourable conditions, the GIPL will allow gas to be transported to or from Poland and other EU countries. With the application of additional technical solutions, it will also be possible to supply it to Ukraine or Belarus.
According to Rolandas Zukas, CEO of state-controlled energy companies group EPSO-G, timely investment in the energy transmission and trading infrastructure allows market participants in all countries of the region to operate in a competitive environment and increases the attractiveness and liquidity of the market, and as a result, consumers will be able to directly feel the impact of the recently favourable gas prices on their wallets.
“We’re seeing that with the construction of the gas pipeline between Estonia and Finland and liberalisation of this country’s gas market, trading on the GET Baltic exchange is exceeding our expectations and in the first three months of this year, turnover was higher than we had planned for the entire first half,” Mr Zukas noted. “Therefore, we are now not only building, but also modelling what new services and new gas supply routes will be created, and what new opportunities will be presented by the gas pipeline between Lithuania and Poland once it begins operation.”
The construction of the GIPL, whose route length in Lithuania is 165 kilometres, began at the beginning of this year. Eighty-Five kilometres of steel pipes have already been delivered to Lithuania from Poland, 64 kilometres of pipes have been welded and the first five kilometres of the gas pipeline have been laid in the excavated trench.
“The most complex phase of this year’s work will begin in early June when our German partners will begin horizontal directional drilling under the Neris,” added Nemunas Biknius, CEO of natural gas transmission operator Amber Grid. “Worksites have already been set up at Kernavė on one side and at Kazokiškės on the other side of the river, and we are almost done welding a special pipe that will be drawn along the bottom of the Neris, at a depth of 20 metres.”
The GIPL will make it possible to transport up to 27 terawatt-hours (TWh) of gas per year to the Baltic States, and up to 21 TWh per year to Poland and the Baltic gas markets will become part of the single EU gas market.
Photo: Ministry of Energy’s official website.