Mysterious Leaks Hit Nord Stream Pipelines Linking Russia and Germany
Two leaks appeared to have developed on the Nord Stream 1 pipeline, beneath the Baltic Sea
Danish and Swedish officials on Tuesday said two leaks had been identified on the Nord Stream 1 Russia-Europe gas pipeline in the Baltic Sea.
The news came only hours after a similar development on its twin pipeline Nord Stream 2. Both conduits have become flashpoints in the escalating energy war that has sent gas prices rocketing since Russia's invasion of Ukraine.
What do we know so far?
Officials said a pressure drop was detected in the Nord Stream 1 undersea gas channel soon after a similar fall was detected in its sister pipeline Nord Stream 2.
Both of Nord Stream 1's two lines are affected, while one of Nord Stream 2's pipelines showed a drop in pressure.
Marine authorities identified a gas leak southeast of the Danish island of Bornholm as the likely cause of the issue affecting Nord Stream 2. Danish officials warned of a threat to shipping in the area and asked vessels to steer clear.
Swedish authorities on Tuesday said there were two leaks on Nord Stream 1 — one in the Danish maritime economic zone and the other in the Swedish one. The two leaks were reported to be very close to one another.
The German economy ministry said it was investigating the incident.
"We currently do not know the reason for the drop in pressure," it said.
What's the significance?
Both of the pipelines were built to carry natural gas from Russia to Europe, although the Nord Stream 2 pipeline was never activated.
German officials have not yet provided any information on the possible cause of the damage. However, Berlin's Tagesspiegel newspaper cited German security circles saying that sabotage was strongly suspected. "Our imagination no longer allows for a scenario in which this is not a targeted attack," the newspaper quoted its source as saying.
Denmark's Prime Minister Mette Frederiksen said it was "hard to imagine" that the leaks were "accidental."
Speaking to Danish media while on a visit to Poland, Frederiksen said: "It's an unusual situation, to have three leaks a distance from each other. That's why it's hard to imagine that it's accidental."
Separately, Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov said Russia was "extremely concerned" by the reports of damage and that no option, including sabotage, can be excluded at the moment.
"Obviously, there is a destruction of the pipeline. And what the reason is, there is no option that can be ruled out until the results of the investigation emerge," Peskov was cited as saying by Interfax state news agency. "This is an absolutely unprecedented situation that needs to be resolved quickly."
While neither pipeline has been delivering supplies to Europe, both have still been filled with gas.
Why is no gas flowing from Russia?
Nord Stream 1 was carrying gas to Germany until earlier this month, but Russian energy giant Gazprom cut off the supply, claiming there was a need for urgent maintenance work to repair key components.
German officials have rejected state-owned Gazprom's explanation of technical problems, saying the stoppage is merely a power play in response to Western sanctions.
Gazprom began to cut supplies through Nord Stream 1 in mid-June, blaming a delay in the delivery of a turbine that had been sent to Canada for repair.
The newer Nord Stream 2 pipeline was fully complete when German Chancellor Olaf Scholz suspended its certification, two days before Russia invaded Ukraine.
Germany has long been highly dependent on imports of fossil fuels from Russia to meet its energy needs but has been forced to look for new sources since the war in Ukraine began.
Get the latest reports & analysis with people's perspective on Protests, movements & deep analytical videos, discussions of the current affairs in your Telegram app. Subscribe to NewsClick's Telegram channel & get Real-Time updates on stories, as they get published on our website.