Tuesday, December 6

“Unprecedented” mystery leaks detected in Nord Stream gas pipelines from Russia to Europe

Warsaw, Poland — The Danish prime minister said Tuesday that she “cannot rule out” sabotage after three leaks were detected on Russian natural gas pipelines running under the Baltic Sea to Europe. Premier Mette Frederiksen spoke after simultaneous problems were reported with the Nord Stream 1 and 2 pipelines that were not bringing gas to Germany amid an energy standoff caused by Russia’s invasion of Ukraine, but were still filled with the fuel.

She spoke at the inauguration of a new pipeline with Norwegian gas meant to help wean Poland and Europe off Russian supplies.

Officials said the leaks did not pose any threat to energy supplies and experts said the environmental impact would be limited.
Danish authorities announced Monday that a leak was detected in the Nord Stream 2 pipeline, which has never been used. They were later informed of a major pressure drop on Nord Stream 1, which until recently has been a key source of gas to Germany.

Germany Gas Tax
The landfall facility of the Nord Stream 1 Baltic Sea pipeline and the transfer station of the OPAL gas pipeline, the Baltic Sea Pipeline Link, are seen in Lubmin, Germany, July 21, 2022.

Markus Schreiber/AP

The Swedish Maritime Administration said Tuesday that two leaks were discovered in the Nord Stream 1 pipeline, which partly runs in Swedish waters. Danish authorities also have confirmed the leaks, and the Russian operator of the pipelines also said sabotage could not be ruled out, calling the leaks “unprecedented.”
The Danish Maritime Authority issued a navigation warning and established a prohibited area with the aim of ensuring that ships do not sail near the leaks. Ships may lose buoyancy if they sail into the area, and there may also be a risk of ignition above the water and in the air, the Danish authorities said. Swedish authorities sent out similar warnings.
The leaks in the pipelines were detected northeast and southeast of the Danish island of Bornholm.
The pipelines have been at the center of an energy war between Europe and Russia since the invasion of Ukraine in late February. A drop in Russian gas supplies has caused energy prices to soar, causing pain for many across Europe, creating fears about the coming winter and putting pressure on governments to help ease the pain of sky-high bills of their citizens.

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Across Europe, countries have been struggling to find other sources of gas, starting from different positions. Poland, for example, was already on track when the war began to free itself of Russian gas after working for years to find other sources, including imports of liquefied natural gas, or LNG, from the United States and the Middle East. Germany, in contrast, is only now struggling to quickly build LNG terminals, but officials said natural gas storage facilities in the country were more than 90% full, still filling, and they did not anticipate shortages this winter.
A prominent project in the bid for energy security is the Baltic Pipe, a pipeline bringing Norwegian gas through Denmark and along the Baltic Sea to Poland. It is due to be inaugurated Tuesday in northern Poland by Polish, Danish and Norwegian officials.
Of the two pipelines hit by leaks, Nord Stream 2 has never operated, while Nord Stream 1 carried gas to Germany until this month, when Russian energy giant Gazprom cut off the supply, claiming there was a need for urgent maintenance work.
Gazprom’s explanation of technical problems has been rejected by German officials as a cover for a political power play to raise prices and spread uncertainty.
Nord Stream 2 was already complete when German Chancellor Olaf Scholz suspended its certification on the eve of Russia’s invasion of Ukraine.

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