Russian authorities have conducted an emergency inspection of a late-running liquefied natural gas plant and export terminal on the coast of the Baltic Sea.

The country’s environmental watchdog, Rosprirodnadzor, said the goal of the inspection was to check the progress of construction activities near the Gazprom-operated Portovaya compression station, as well as their environmental impact.

The LNG plant, close to the Russia-Finland border, has a planned annual capacity of 1.5 million tonnes per year. It was originally expected to come on stream in 2019 but has been repeatedly delayed.

The latest statements by Russian contractor Peton suggest that production of LNG will begin later this year.

Peton was awarded an engineering, procurement and construction contract from Gazprom for the facility in 2016, priced at 127 billion rubles ($1.62 billion).

The inspection of the facility comes at a time when the Kremlin has an eye on the possible imposition of sanctions by the US and European countries following the escalation of tensions at the Ukrainian border.

Known as Portovaya LNG, the project will source feedstock gas from a trunk pipeline that delivers gas to the Portovaya compression station, at the same location where the first Gazprom-led subsea gas export pipeline across the Baltic Sea, Nord Stream, begins its route to Germany.

According to Gazprom, a primary goal of the project is to secure alternative LNG deliveries in the event that its gas deliveries to the Russian enclave of Kaliningrad via a transit pipeline across Belarus and Lithuania are halted.

Additionally, the plant may supply LNG for local customers and vessel bunkering.

In June 2020, Gazprom said it had started commissioning works at Portovaya LNG facilities in anticipation of the arrival of a floating gas storage vessel to be moored near the plant.

Last September, a Gazprom executive told an industry conference in Moscow that commissioning works were almost completed at supporting infrastructure facilities.

Construction at two trains using Russian-made compressors and a Linde-patented liquefaction process has been continuing.

Gazprom reportedly completed a connecting gas link to the future plant last year and moored a 2003-built LNG carrier, revamped into a FSU, at a terminal next to it.

The LNG carrier, renamed Portovy after the upgrade, was previously known as Peace River and, before that, Excel. It adds 138,000 cubic metres of capacity to the planned onshore storage of 42,000 cbm.

Earlier in January, Gazprom stopped using its LNG and regasification vessel Marshal Vasilevskiy on the global shipping market, ordering it to head to Kaliningrad, according to marine traffic resources, in what is seen as a move to ensure security of supply if the enclave loses access to pipeline gas.

Meanwhile, President Alexander Lukashenko said on Friday that Belarus forces will join with those of its ally, Russia, in the event of any “outside” military action against the country .

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