Gas and electricity suppliers benefit from cold spell

  • 2006-01-25
  • From wire reports
RIGA - Natural gas and power consumption surged in all three Baltic states during last week's cold spell, with Latvia supplying gas to neighboring countries in need.
About 12 million cubic meters of gas were removed each day from Latvijas Gaze's (Latvian Gas') underground storage facility to satisfy the country's needs, said utility spokesman Vinsents Makaris.

This is a much larger amount than usually consumed during cold weather.

"For comparison, upon temperature of negative 6 degrees Celsius, the daily gas consumption is about 8.5 million cubic meters," said Makaris, adding that gas from the Incukalns reservoir was also being sent to neighboring countries.

"At present about five million cubic meters are being sent from Incukalns to Estonia daily and six million cubic meters a day go to Russia," he continued. "Today the company will start sending gas to Lithuania, several hundred thousands of cubic meters daily 's as many as the storage facility's technical capacity permits."

During the freezing weather, Latvijas Gaze did not ask its clients to limit gas consumption.

"The provision about limited gas consumption has been included in gas supply agreements with clients in Russia. But thanks to the Incukalns storage facility Latvia, while not being a gas producer, can supply enough resources to itself without any restrictions on gas consumers and also to send gas to neighbors," said the gas utility spokesman.

Meanwhile, electricity consumption in Latvia increased as well, said Andris Siksnis, a spokesman for the state-owned electricity utility Latvenergo.

Latvia's average daily power consumption was 1,352 MW, he noted.

"Average electricity consumption is usually 1,300 MW in the winter and only 700-800 MW in the summer. Even though the difference in electricity consumption is 52-60 MW daily, it should be seen as sufficiently large," said the spokesman.

Regardless of the large daily electric power consumption, Siksnis said the company would be able to satisfy the demand for electricity in full.

Meanwhile, the power consumption record set in Estonia on Jan. 19 was broken the next day with 1,555 megawatts.

Because of heavy domestic consumption, electric power consumption rose to 1,539 megawatts on the evening of Jan. 19. The previous record was in January 2003, when the indicator rose to 1,475 megawatts.

Eesti Energia (Estonian Energy) spokeswoman Helen Sabrak said that, as temperatures remained quite low throughout Estonia, the power plants and grids continued under a heavy load.

On a normal winter day consumption is from about 1,200 to 1,300 megawatts. Estonian Energy's maximum capacity is more than 1,900 megawatts.

In Lithuania, except for the crisis in Telsiai (See story on Page 1), the country's energy system was operating smoothly, energy companies said.

Lietuvos Dujos (Lithuanian Gas), the largest natural gas importer and the only gas transportation company, said that gas supplies to the country had not been reduced.

"Pressure in pipelines has dropped somewhat but we are getting the full quota of gas. We ask large consumers to keep to agreements and not to use more gas," said Sigita Petrikonyte-Jurkuniene, the company's spokeswoman.

She also said that Lietuvos Dujos had added staff to its emergency service to cope with an increasing number of calls from homeowners.

"The electrical energy systems are working smoothly. There are no disruptions. Still, another unit of the Lithuanian Power Plant will be switched on today. It will operate under the hot regime and will use orimulsion, so that not to use fuel oil and gas," said Lietuvos Dujos CEO Rymantas Juozaitis.

He said the plant's two operating blocks, which have a total capacity of 450 megawatts, will work at a capacity of around 220 megawatts.

Mazeikiu Nafta (Mazeikiu Nafta), the only oil refinery in the Baltics, also said that it continues to receive enough crude and that the freezing weather has caused no disruptions at the plant.