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Sabotage suspected after leaks found on Nord Stream pipelines


A view of the pipeline system and switchgear at the Nord Stream 2 Baltic Sea gas receiving station.

Stefan Sauer | image union | beautiful pictures

Investigations are ongoing into unexplained leaks affecting both the Nord Stream 1 and 2 pipelines, which carry natural gas from Russia to Europe via the Baltic Sea.

Neither pipeline was pumping gas at the time of the leak: Nord Stream 1 stopped pumping gas to Europe “indefinitely” earlier this month, with the Moscow operator saying international sanctions on Russia has prevented it from performing important maintenance work.

Meanwhile, the newer pipeline Nord Stream 2 was never officially opened due to Germany’s refusal to issue certification for commercial activities due to Russia’s invasion of Ukraine.

Both Europe and Russia have said sabotage as a cause of damage cannot be ruled out, but the finger of blame is being pointed at Moscow, which has yet to directly respond to the allegations.

For its part, Russia’s state gas giant Gazprom declined to comment on the leaks when approached by Reuters while network operator Nord Stream AG, said in a statement reported by Reuters that ” The simultaneous destruction of three wires of the Nord Stream system’s offshore gas pipelines is unprecedented.”

“It is not yet possible to estimate the time to restore gas transit infrastructure,” it added.

Asked about previously damaged pipelines, a Kremlin spokesman said the leak was a cause for concern and sabotage as one of the possible causes but said there was still “too much to do”. early” to speculate before the results of the investigation.

Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov told reporters: “No options can be ruled out right now.

Nord Stream released a statement on Monday noting that Nord Stream 1 control center coordinators had “registered a pressure drop on both wires of the gas pipeline” on the grounds that they were being regulated. check, although don’t know if this issue is connected.

‘Serious’ safety risk

Analysts say the leaks represent a major “safety and environmental risk” and maritime authorities responsible for monitoring the affected area are scrambling to determine the extent of the problem. .

Danish and Swedish authorities have declared no-transport zones around a suspected leak in their maritime zones while Denmark raised its gas and power safety alert, Reuters reported. reported earlier on Tuesday.

Analysts note that these leaks will destroy any remaining expectations that Europe could receive gas through Nord Stream 1 before winter.

Henning Gloystein, director of energy, climate and resources and senior analyst Jason Bush, at Eurasia Group, said in a note on Tuesday that while German and Danish authorities said cause of leaks is unknown, “unplanned leaks to undersea pipelines are rare. they are designed to avoid accidental damage.”

“Several EU sources said there appeared to be potential for sabotage. Neither pipeline was supplying commercial gas at the time of the leak, but both lines remained pressurized and each had capable of conducting about 165 million cubic meters of heavy methane gas per day”. They added: “Leaks of this size represent a serious safety and environmental hazard, especially if Russia does not stop pumping gas into the system.”

“Depending on the size of the damage, leaks could even mean the permanent closure of both lines,” added Eurasia Group.

On Friday, Russian energy supplier Gazprom said it would no longer supply natural gas to Germany through the vital Nord Stream 1 pipeline, due to a turbine malfunction.

Hannibal Hanschke | Reuters

The Nord Stream gas pipelines have been the focus of tensions between Russia and Europe in recent months, with Russia accused of weaponizing gas supplies to its neighbor in an attempt to achieve sanctions.

Over the summer, Gazprom announced a sporadic shutdown of gas flows to Europe, citing the need for pipeline maintenance (analysts say the outage is designed to put pressure on Europe). Europe to limit sanctions). Flow has now completely stopped through the Nord Stream 1 gas pipeline, again after Gazprom said sanctions prevented maintenance from being carried out, a statement obtained by gas industry experts and Siemens, which supplied and maintained the equipment, has widely denied it.

Timothy Ash, a senior strategist for emerging markets sovereignty, said allegations that Russia may be behind the damage are “remarkable.”

“So some holes have appeared in these pipes, thick and deeply buried. This must be a submarine, possibly a Russian submarine,” he said in an email, adding that it would be “no.” believable” if Russia is found to have. willing “to pose such risks to shipping in the Baltics.”

Russia has yet to respond directly to the allegations of being behind the pipeline failure.

European benchmark gas prices rose on Tuesday with the Dutch TTF gas futures contract rising more than 8% to 208.44 euros a megawatt hour.

Gazprom cuts off Nord Stream pipeline as Russia Putin intensifies energy war



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