On Tuesday, European countries raced to investigate mysterious leaks in Russian gas pipelines that run under the Baltic Sea between Sweden and Denmark.
This infrastructure is at the center of an energy crisis ever since Russia invaded Ukraine.
The warning was issued by Sweden’s Maritime Authority about two leaks in Nord Stream 1’s pipeline. This came shortly after a leak in Nord Stream 2’s nearby pipeline was discovered. Denmark had previously restricted shipping within a radius of five nautical miles.
Both of these pipelines were key points in the escalating energy conflict between Moscow and European capitals. This has hampered major Western economies and sent gas prices soaring, causing a search for other energy sources.
A European security source said that there are “some indications” that the damage was deliberate, but it was too early to draw any conclusions. “You need to ask who would benefit?”
Russia said that the leakage in the Russian network was a cause of concern and that sabotage could be one cause. Dmitry Peskov, a Kremlin spokesperson, told reporters that “no option can be ruled in right now.”
Despite the fact that neither pipeline was pumping gas into Europe at the time of the leaks, the incident will end any hopes that Europe might receive gas via Nord Stream 1 prior to winter.
Nord Stream AG, the network operator, stated that “the destruction that occurred simultaneously on three strings offshore gas pipelines of Nord Stream system was unprecedented.” “It’s not possible to predict the timing of the restoration of the gas transport infrastructure.
Despite not being in use, both pipelines contained gas under pressure.
Dan Jorgensen, Denmark’s energy minister, stated in a written statement that leaking gas was detected in Nord Stream 2 between Russia and Denmark on Monday.
Gazprom, a Kremlin-controlled corporation that holds a monopoly over Russian gas exports via pipeline, declined to comment.
Russia cut gas supplies to Europe via Nord Stream 1 and then suspended flows entirely in August. It blamed Western sanctions for causing technical problems. European politicians claim that this was a pretext for stopping the gas supply.
The Nord Stream 2 pipeline has yet to be commercially operational. Germany scrapped the plan to use gas to supply gas before Russia sent troops to Ukraine in February.
Jakub Godzimirski is a researcher at the Norwegian Institute of Foreign Affairs and specializes in Russian energy policy. He suggested that the leaks could have been due to technical malfunctions, but also suggested that sabotage might be possible.
The leaks occurred just before Tuesday’s ceremonial launch of the Baltic Pipe, which carries gas from Norway to Poland. This is a central part of Warsaw’s attempts to diversify away from Russian supplies.
Norway’s Petroleum Safety Authority (PSA), had called oil companies Monday to be alert about unidentified drones flying near Norwegian offshore oil- and gas platforms. This was in the wake of possible attacks.
According to the Swedish Maritime Administration (SMA), there were two leaks in Nord Stream 1. One was in the Swedish economic area and one in the Danish zone. The spokesperson also said that both were located in an area northeastern of Bornholm, Denmark.
A second spokesperson for the SMA stated that they are monitoring closely to ensure no ships come too close to the site.
If vessels enter the zone, they could lose buoyancy and possibly ignite over the water. The Danish energy agency stated that there are no security threats and that there is no risk to the vessel’s safety.
It said that the leak would not have any effect on the environment globally. This means that the only area affected by the gas plume in the water column would be affected. However, methane, a greenhouse gas, would have a detrimental impact on the climate.
Danish authorities requested that Denmark’s preparedness for the power sector and gas sector be increased after the leaks. This would require enhanced safety procedures for power plants and facilities.
Kristoffer Bottzauw, head of the Danish energy agency said that gas pipeline ruptures are very rare.
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