Mysterious leak concerns Russian underwater gas pipelines in Europe

Mysterious leak affects Russian underwater gas pipelines in Europe: On Tuesday, European nations were quick to look into mysterious leaks at two Russian gas pipelines which cross the Baltic Sea near Sweden and Denmark. These pipelines have been at the center of an energy crisis that has existed ever since Russia invaded Ukraine.

Russian officials who developed the network have not completely ruled out sabotage, according to some European officials. Terje Aasland, Norway’s oil and energy minister, said on Tuesday that early evidence of the leak pointed to “acts of sabotage”.

Both the Swedish and Danish prime ministers, Magdalena Andersson and Mette Frederiksen, acknowledged that the incident was likely “planned”, but they downplay the likelihood of military danger.

Both pipelines have been central points in an ongoing energy dispute between Moscow and European cities that has wreaked havoc on the West’s biggest economies, driven up gas prices and sparked demand for other energy sources. According to pipeline operator Nord Stream AG, it is currently not possible to make an estimate “time frame for the restoration of the gas transport infrastructure”.

German Minister of Economy Robert Habeck said German energy supplies had not been affected, while saying German, Danish and Scandinavian security officials were actively monitoring the Baltic Sea leaks and looking into their cause.

A series of leaks

After detecting a leak on an adjacent Nord Stream 2 pipeline earlier in the day Sweden’s maritime authorities issued a warning about two leaks in the The Nord Stream 1 gas pipeline.

Any remaining hopes that Europe could get gas through Nord Stream 1 before winter will be dashed, as neither pipeline was pumping gas to Europe when the leaks were discovered.

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

Both pipelines still carried gas under pressure, although neither was in use. A gas leak in Nord Stream 2 between Russia and Denmark was discovered on Monday, according to a written statement from Dan Jorgensen, Denmark’s energy minister.

Mysterious leak concerns Russian underwater gas pipelines in Europe
Mysterious leak concerns Russian underwater gas pipelines in Europe

The Kremlin-controlled firm that has a monopoly on pipeline exports of Russian gas, Gazprom, declined to comment. Russia cut gas supplies to Europe via Nord Stream 1 before completely halting supplies in August, blaming technical problems on Western sanctions.

Politicians in Europe claim that this was an excuse to cut off gas supplies. The brand new Nord Stream 2 pipeline had yet to begin receiving commercial traffic. Days before Russia sent troops into Ukraine in February, Germany abandoned the idea of ​​using it as a source of gas.

Ursula von der Leyen, president of the European Commission, said on Tuesday that any deliberate attempt to disrupt Europe’s energy infrastructure is “unacceptable” and would “get the strictest answer [possible].”

Who will benefit?

The possibility of intentional damage was also recognized by experts. Russian energy policy expert Yakub Godzimirsky, a research professor at the Norwegian Institute of Foreign Affairs, suggested that the leaks may have been caused by technical difficulties, but also suggested that sabotage was possible.

“There are some indications that this is intentional damage,” a European security source said, while adding that it was still too early to draw a conclusion. “You have to ask: Who would win?’ The leaks occurred just before the Baltic Pipe, a key component of Warsaw’s plans to diversify its gas supplies outside of Russia, was to be ceremonially launched on Tuesday.

The Petroleum Safety Authority (PSA) of Norway on Monday warned oil companies to be wary of unidentified drones found flying near Norwegian offshore oil and gas sites.

Swedish Maritime Administration (SMA) confirmed that Nord Stream 1 had two leaks, one in the Swedish economic zone and the other in the Danish zone, both located northeast of the Danish island of Bornholm.

“We are monitoring further to ensure that no ships come too close to the site,” said a second SMA spokesman. The Danish Energy Agency said there were no security concerns related to the leak outside the exclusion zone, but added that entering the region could cause ships to lose buoyancy and there could be a chance the leaking gas could ignite over water and into the air.

Seismologists detected explosions on Monday in a region adjacent to the Nord Stream pipelines, although it is not known if these events are related to the pipelines. It says that the release of the greenhouse gas methane will harm the climate and that the leak will only have a local effect on the ecosystem, meaning it will only affect the region where the gas column is located in the water column.

After the leaks, the Danish government demanded that Denmark’s level of preparedness for the energy and gas sector be increased, a move that requires stricter safety rules for power plants and facilities.

“Pipeline breaks are extremely rare… We want to ensure thorough monitoring of Denmark’s critical infrastructure to improve security of supply in the future,” said the head of the Danish Energy Agency, Christopher Botzaw.

Final thoughts

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