RIGA - Latvia will have enough natural gas for household consumption and to ensure safe operation of the electric power system even if the Baltic countries are desynchronized from the Russian power grid this winter, the Economics Ministry's deputy state secretary Edijs Saicans said at a meeting of Saeima Economic, Agricultural, Environmental and Regional Policy Committee on Wednesday.
Gatis Junghans, member of the board at electricity transmission system operator Augstsprieguma Tikls, said at the meeting that if the Baltics were desynchronized from the Russian grid, cogeneration plants would have to generate bigger amounts of electricity, which would require more gas: 7 terawatt-hours (TWh) to 10 TWh across the Baltic region. Latvia could have to provide about half of this amount.
Saicans explained that this 3.5 TWh to 5 TWh did not mean an additional amount of natural gas, but the amount required for the operation of cogeneration plants on a daily basis and for synchronization with the European Union's power grid.
According to the Economics Ministry's estimates, Latvia's gas consumption this coming winter, taking into account the planned austerity measures, could amount to about 6.9 TWh, which includes the natural gas amount necessary for operation of cogeneration plants. An additional 1 TWh of natural gas could be needed for synchronization, which means that Latvia could consume a total of 7.9 TWh of natural gas in the winter.
In the meantime, there is currently 12 TWh of natural gas in Incukalns underground gas storage facility, of which 5.7 TWh belongs to Latvian traders, said Saicans. Part of the remaining 6.7 TWh is also sold in Latvia. Contracts have been signed for supply of another 1.5 TWh of gas by the end of the year, and Latvia is to receive another 2 TWh of gas in the first quarter of 2023.
According to Saicans, therefore there will be enough natural gas available this winter, including for the synchronization purposes, and some of natural gas will even be left over. The Economics Ministry's estimates are based on a standard scenario where gas traders fulfill their contractual obligations, he added.
Currently, the majority of the 5.7 TWh of Latvian traders' gas in Incukalns underground gas storage facility belongs to power utility Latvenergo, but the specific amount cannot be revealed, said Saicans, adding that the Economics Ministry knew precisely how much gas Latvenergo was planning to deliver to customers. On the other hand, the majority of the remaining natural gas in Incukalns facility is gas that, according to the government's decision, may not be shipped out of Latvia.