A groundbreaking ceremony was held in this regard at Inkoo, Finland on the compressor station worksite of the Balticconnector gas pipeline, which is scheduled to be completed by 2020.

The new bi-directional gas pipeline, which will be of 153km length, will link the Finnish and Baltic gas markets, thereby facilitating their integration with the European Union’s (EU) common energy market.

While 21km of the pipeline will be laid in Finland, 55km of it will be built in Estonia. The remaining 77km of the pipeline will be laid under the Baltic Sea from Inkoo to Paldiski in Estonia.

While Baltic Connector is responsible for the Finnish segment of the gas pipeline project, Elering is handling the Estonian portion. The two companies are wholly owned by the Finnish and the Estonian governments.

Baltic Connector CEO and president Herkko Plit said: “Gas has a significant role in the European energy policy, and it is the first step in reducing emissions when abandoning the use of coal. Hereby, we have once again taken a step towards a carbon-neutral society as part of the common European gas market.”

Balticconnector, which will be capable of transporting 7.2 million cubic metres of gas per day, is expected to play a key role in both Finland and the EU’s energy strategies. It is also anticipated to boost regional security of supply by diversifying gas sources.

Finland Environment, Energy and Housing Minister said: “The Balticconnector pipeline gives Finland the opportunity to open its natural gas market to the competition.

“It also allows us to gradually join the European natural gas network and the EU’s common natural gas market. We are looking forward to the completion of the pipeline. In Finland, the necessary legislation entered into force already at the start of this year.”

The gas pipeline project has the backing of the European Commission, which in August 2016 announced a funding of €187.5m, covering 75% of the project’s cost.

The Balticconnector gas pipeline project will see construction of pipelines, stations, and systems to link the existing gas networks in Finland and Estonia.