Speech at the festive opening ceremony of the Balticconnector gas interconnection on 11th of December 2019

Your Excellences President Kaljulaid and President Niinistö

Ministers, excellences, Ladies and Gentlemen!

The mission of my company Elering is to ensure that the lights are on and the homes are warm in Estonia. We have always believed that the best way to achieve this is to have an integrated, well-functioning single European energy market. A fully integrated Estonian-Finnish energy market together with an infrastructure has been an integral part of our vision. From electricity to gas, from wholesale to retail. We in Elering strongly believe, that this fully integrated energy market is good for both our countries!

This is the higher purpose of why we’re doing this. We’re not just building pipes and cables between the two countries with our friends from Baltic Connector OY, Fingrid and Finnish Gas TSO but are establishing a common energy market that guarantees energy for the best price and most reliable way for our societies.

Ladies and gentlemen

This year marks the 10th anniversary of the foundation of Elering as an independent company and my own 10th year in Elering. Our job to liberalize Estonian electricity and gas market has been ultimate success story!  But it hasn’t been always obvious. On our journey there has been a lot of headwind. Time when Elering bought the Estonian gas grid, there were only a few people outside from Elering who believed that connecting the Estonian and Finnish gas markets and building Balticconnector is right thing to do and would be possible!

But we succeeded, because we knew exactly why we do it! We believed deeply that we can do the same in gas that we did with Fingrid in electricity, when we built Estlink 2 and connected the markets. I would hereby like to thank the people who were the early supporters of our vision and who helped us get to the point where prime ministers Stubb and Rõivas made the political decision to integrate markets.

Infrastructure without a market is a waste of money! The single Finnish-Estonian-Latvian gas market will be launched on 1 January 2020. This is the first gas market in Europe which integrates in so large scale three countries together.  Balticconnector has been the enabler of much larger change – to establish a single market. My experience says – the infrastructure comes first, and the market follows.

When building an infrastructure for the future you have to understand a broader picture. We have prepared numerous cost-benefit analyses over the years, but the reality is often different. Market is wiser than we are. When we did the cost-benefit analysis of Balticconnector, we expected that the benefits will come via the movement of cheaper Finnish gas to the Baltic States. The situation today has turned 180 degrees. The gas stored in Incukalns in Latvia is waiting for 1 January to move to Finland through Balticconnector.

Ladies and gentlemen

Therefore the broader view, like the Baltic Energy Market Interconnection Plan is important. BEMIP has been a success story in European range. We wouldn’t have Balticconnector without BEMIP. BEMIP helped us to overcome many times our national interests to the broader regional vision. I would hereby like to thank the European Commission and, above all, DG ENERGY for their patient in leading the BEMIP process all these years. Continuously, many large changes are still on going. But most importantly, to trust us the 75 per cent co-financing from the Connecting Europe Facility. If BEMIP was the platform for Balticconnector construction decision then EU cofinancing was ultimate enabler. Without co-financing we would never have built the Balticconnector!  Thank you!

Thank you Herkko, thank you Baltic Connector OY!

Balticconnector was a massive challenge. But we know, the bigger the challenge, bigger the opportunity. And we did it! I’d like to thank also other parties who contributed to the project in addition to my friends and colleagues at Elering and Baltic Connector OY. They are our contractors, local governments, state authorities, diplomats, policymakers, European Commission, DG ENERGY and many others. Many thanks to you all!

Long live Balticconnector, long live the Estonian-Finnish common energy market!

Read more about connecting the gas networks of Finland and Baltic countries: https://elering.ee/en/finnish-estonian-cooperation-secured-successful-commissioning-balticconnector



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