Unexplained Leaks Hit Russian Undersea Gas Pipelines in Baltic

Scandinavian neighbors Sweden and Denmark are investigating leaks in two Russian gas pipelines running under the Baltic Sea that the operating company called “unprecedented.”

Sweden on Tuesday issued a warning about two leaks discovered in the Nord Stream 1 pipeline shortly after another leak on the nearby Nord Stream 2 pipeline was discovered, prompting Denmark to limit shipping in a 5-nautical-mile radius.

Moscow reduced the gas flow to Europe via Nord Stream 1 before suspending it completely in August, claiming that Western sanctions had caused technical difficulties.

The new Nord Stream 2 pipeline has been recently completed but Germany scrapped plans to import gas via the pipeline just days before Russia invaded Ukraine in February.

However, both pipelines still contained gas under pressure.

Nord Stream AG, which operates the pipelines, said on Tuesday that three offshore lines of the Nord Stream gas pipeline system had sustained what it called “unprecedented” damage in one day, adding that it was impossible to say when the gas network system’s working capability would be restored.

“The destruction that occurred on the same day simultaneously on three strings of the offshore gas pipelines of the Nord Stream system is unprecedented. It is not yet possible to estimate the timing of the restoration of the gas transport infrastructure,” Nord Stream AG said.

In Moscow, Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov said that he could not exclude the possibility that sabotage was behind the leaks.

“No option can be ruled out right now,” Peskov told a conference call with reporters.

Meanwhile, the Baltic Pipe, a new subsea pipeline delivering Norwegian gas to Poland with an annual capacity of 10 billion cubic meters per day, was inaugurated on September 27 in a move to strengthen Europe’s energy security after Russia cut off Warsaw’s supplies.

At a ceremony in western Poland, Norwegian Energy Minister Terje Aasland said it was “a milestone on the important path towards European independence from Russian energy.”

Danish Prime Minister Mette Frederiksen said the pipeline launch “marks a crucial geopolitical step for all of us.”

Polish President Andrzej Duda called the pipeline “a Polish dream.”

Information from Reuters was used in this report

leave a comment