September 30, 2022

Estonia Never Needed to Import Gas by Ship. Until It Did.

Still, like the other former Soviet republics Lithuania and Latvia, as well as former Communist bloc countries like Poland, Estonia was always more wary of Russia’s power plays.

Two days before the war started, the Estonian prime minister chided “countries which don’t border Russia” for not thinking through the risks of depending on Russian energy.

By contrast, Poland moved to quit itself of Russian natural gas and began work in 2013 on a pipeline that will deliver supplies from Norway. It is scheduled to be completed in October. Lithuania — which at one point had received 100 percent of its supply through a single pipeline from the Russian monopoly Gazprom — went ahead and completed its own small L.N.G. terminal in 2014, the year that Russia annexed Crimea.

Liquefied natural gas terminals are not the only energy source that European countries once disdained and are now compelled to explore. In a hotly disputed decision, the European Parliament last month reclassified some gas and nuclear power as “green.” The Netherlands is re-examining fracking. And Germany is refiring coal plants and even rethinking its determined rejection of nuclear energy.

In Paldiski, enormous wind turbines are along the coast of the Pakri peninsula. On this day, gusts were strong enough not only to spin the blades but also to halt work on the floating terminal. A giant tracked excavator was parked on the sand. At the end of a long skeletal pier, the tops of 200-foot-long steel pipes that had been slammed into the seabed poked up through the water like a skyline of rust-colored chimney stacks.

Paldiski Bay, which is ice-free year-round and has direct access to the Baltic Sea, has always been an important commercial and strategic gateway. Generations before the Soviets parked their nuclear submarines there; the Russian czar Peter the Great built a military fortress and port there in the 18th century.

Now, the bay is again playing a similar role — only this time not for Russia.

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