Gas leaks in Russian pipelines to Europe stoke sabotage fears

STOCKHOLM/COPENHAGEN: Europe is investigating leaks in two Russian gas pipelines that stirred the Baltic Sea with bubbles on Tuesday and raised concerns from Copenhagen to Moscow about infrastructure sabotage. floors at the heart of Europe’s energy stalemate.
But it remains unclear who may be behind any of the foul play, if proven, on Nord . series pipeline that Russia and its European partners have spent billions of dollars building.
The Polish prime minister blamed vandalism without providing evidence, and the Danish prime minister said that could not be ruled out.
Russia, which cut gas supplies to Europe after the West imposed sanctions, says sabotage is possible and the incident has undermined the continent’s energy security. this. A senior Ukrainian official called it a Russian attack aimed at destabilizing Europe, without providing evidence.
The Nord Stream pipelines are at the heart of an escalating energy war between European capitals and Moscow, which has rattled major Western economies, sent gas prices skyrocketing and caused a hunt for alternative energy supplies.
The Swedish Maritime Authority has issued a warning about two leaks in the Nord Stream 1 pipeline, a day after a leak in the nearby Nord Stream 2 pipeline was discovered, prompting Denmark to restrict shipping and impose pressures. set a small no-fly zone.
The Danish armed forces have released a video showing the water bubbling up to the surface of the sea. The armed forces said the largest gas leak caused surface disturbances more than 1 km (0.6 mi) in diameter.
“Today we were faced with an act of vandalism, we don’t know all the details of what happened, but it is clear to us that it was an act of vandalism, involving the climb. next escalation of the situation in Ukraine,” Polish Prime Minister Mateusz Morawiecki said at the opening ceremony of the new pipeline between Norway and Poland.
‘Danger of explosion’
The leaks are huge and it could take a week for gas to stop coming out of the Nord Stream 2 pipeline, said Kristoffer Bottzauw, head of the Danish Energy Agency.
Vessels may lose buoyancy if entering this area.
“The sea surface is full of methane, which means there is a high risk of explosions in the area,” Bottzauw said.
Prime Minister of Denmark Mette Frederiksen indicates vandalism cannot be ruled out. “We’re talking about three leaks with distances between them and that’s why it’s hard to imagine that’s a coincidence,” she said.
Kremlin Spokesman Dmitry Peskov called it “very disturbing news. Indeed, we are talking about some damage of an unknown nature to the pipeline in the Danish economic zone.” He says it affects the energy security of the continent.
Neither pipeline was pumping gas to Europe at the time the leak was discovered amid a dispute over the war in Ukraine, but the incidents would erode any remaining expectations that Europe could. receive gas via Nord Stream 1 before winter.
Nord Stream operator said the damage was “unprecedented”.
Both pipes contain gas even though they are inactive.
Gazprom, the Kremlin-controlled company with a monopoly on Russian gas exports by pipeline, declined to comment.
“There are some indications that it was intentional damage,” a European security source said, adding that it was too early to draw conclusions. “You have to ask: Who will profit?”
Cut off power supply
Russia cut gas supplies to Europe through Nord Stream 1 before completely suspending flows in August, blaming Western sanctions for the technical difficulty. European politicians say that is a reason to stop supplying gas.
The new Nord Stream 2 pipeline has not yet entered commercial operation. Plans to use it for gas supplies were scrapped by Germany days before Russia sent troops into Ukraine in February.
“Multiple seafloor leaks mean that no pipeline is likely to deliver any gas to the EU next winter, regardless of political developments in the Ukraine war,” the Eurasia Group wrote.
European gas prices rose after this news. Dutch benchmark October prices rose nearly 10% on Tuesday. Prices are still below this year’s stratospheric peaks but still 200% higher than they were in early September 2021.
The leak comes ahead of Tuesday’s ceremony to launch a Baltic pipeline carrying gas from Norway to Poland. A centerpiece of Warsaw’s effort to diversify its supply from Russia, it transcends Nord Stream infrastructure.
The Norwegian Petroleum Safety Authority (PSA) urged oil and gas companies on Monday to be vigilant about unidentified drones flying near oil and gas rigs off the coast of Norway, warning of potential threats. possible attack.
Swedish Maritime Administration (SMA) said two leaks on Nord Stream 1 – one in the Swedish economic zone and the other in the Danish zone – in the northeast of the Danish island of Bornholm.
A spokesman for the SMA said: “We are monitoring further to ensure no ships come too close to the site.
Danish authorities require that the level of readiness in the Danish energy and gas sectors be raised after a leak, a step that requires high safety procedures for installations and facilities. electricity.

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