Russian fittings for the Lithuania-Poland gas pipeline may have come via Estonia

  • 2024-04-23
  • BNS/TBT Staff

VILNIUS - EG Ehitus, Alvora's former partner in the Estonian-Finnish Balticconnector gas pipeline project, purchased fittings that match those installed in the Gas Interconnection Poland-Lithuania (GIPL) from the Russian Eterno plant in 2020, the news website reports on Tuesday, citing customs data as it has carried out an investigation with its Estonian partners.

According to the website, nine shipments of pipeline fittings arrived at EG Ehitus' warehouses from the Eterno plant, which is part of the ChelPipe Group owned by Russian oligarchs, in June 2020, and the steel grade, diameters and other characteristics of the elbows, tees and other parts matched those of the ones installed in the GIPL. 

Ahto Aruvali, the Estonian company's former CEO, says Alvora, the GIPL's main contractor, purchased the Balticconnector project's leftover parts from EG Ehitus.

Meanwhile, Alvora's former and existing executives maintain that no parts were purchased from the Estonian company during the construction of the GIPL pipeline. 

According to experts interviewed by 15min, at that time there was no other project in the region, apart from the GIPL, that required pipeline parts of this size and specification. The Balticconnector was completed in 2019.

Moreover, the experts say, even if EG Ehitus sold parts to Alvora, they could not have been leftovers from the Balticconnector as the latter used fittings of different specifics than those used of the GIPL.

Having carried out an unscheduled inspection, Lithuania’s National Energy Regulatory Council ordered Amber Grid, Lithuania's gas transmission system operator, on Friday to replace 123 suspicious GIPL fittings.

NERC head Renatas Pocius later confirmed that Cyrillic markings were found on the fittings.

The NERC inspection also revealed that Amber Grid failed to properly organize and carry out the technical supervision of the GIPL during its installation, and that the technical supervisors appointed by the company failed to ensure “the quality and control of the construction products and equipment” used during the construction of the pipeline.

The GIPL is Lithuania's largest post-independence investment into the country's gas transmission system development as the country allocated 116 million euros to the project. The project's total value stands at around 500 million euros, with around 60 percent provided by the European Commission.