It is time to wrap up and view what happened in our Balticconnector project in 2018.
The first thing that comes to my mind is, what a great team we have! Each one is committed in doing their own share. We have accomplished milestones and managed to proceed favourably. Every day, all our employees have returned home healthy to their loved ones. Secondly, we should look back to the phases we have managed so far.
Projects usually have a preparation phase. During this period, many are eager to start the building phase – nothing more satisfying than to see plans becoming reality. However, patience is a virtue here. If the construction process starts too early, and the design has not been finished or permits granted, at some point the whole project might be put on hold. Therefore, the underlying principle of the Balticconnector project has been to begin after a sufficient stage to execute the construction and preparation works has been reached.
During the past two years, we have made design that was ready in detail. We applied for all necessary permits and got them. We had challenging procurement negotiations. Most of them were public procurements that have a reputation of stretching schedules in a court room. However, well begun is half done. That old proverb is a source of great wisdom and it applies also to bigger projects.
In the beginning of 2018, we had finished our preparations and first trees were cut and harvested in Inkoo. From that on the pace has accelerated even more. In June, we had a chance to celebrate the groundbreaking ceremony where we were pleased to receive full support for the project from both Finnish and Estonian governments as well as European Commission. It is truly privileged to be part of project which has significance to our society. At the same time, we knowledge the responsibility that comes with it. We are prepared to do our best to succeed.
Laying the pipe to the seabed is probably the biggest thing to people following our project. That phase is sure important but still only one part of the whole project. There is a great deal of preparatory work to be done before the actual pipe laying starts. The seabed in the Gulf of Finland is very uneven. Hence, different kind of formations and blasting have had to be done. Everything has proceeded in a good flow. In December, we had the last rock & roll to do which was to lay some stones to the seabed. That was taken care by a boat called Rollingstone so we were definitely swinging. When finished, everything should be ready for the pipe laying in the coming summer 2019.
People in Inkoo and Lohja have also noticed that something is happening. There has been different kind of land construction, blasting, pipe welding and lowering activities. Part of the pipe trenches have already been filled. Everything has been made with safety and quality as a priority.
We have a year to go. There is still lot to do. Even though everything has proceeded in schedule and within the budget, we still need to keep ourselves alert. Baltic Connector is taking care of its own share of the bigger picture, which is to open Finnish gas market in the beginning of 2020. After our work is completed, there will be a pipe where gas flows from Finland to Estonia and vice versa.
There is lot of work being done in different levels to open the gas market as well. The results are already visible. Not only the people in the gas industry talk about the gas market but also others have realised its potential. Other countries support market integration by making investment decisions that will also for example enable gas import from Norway to Finland once Finnish gas market is open. The future of gas market is not just a dream anymore. It is reality.
During the past year, climate change has risen to a subject that penetrates all different fields of life globally. To us, who are working towards carbon neutral society, it only gives an extra encouragement to our daily work. My vision is, that we are building a platform for energy transfer and to the green gas of the future.
We are eager to continue our work and hopefully, we will be celebrating a new subsea bridge to carbon neutral society next December.
I thank you all for the year 2018 and wish you all the best and success to New Year 2019!
President and CEO of Baltic Connector Oy