A file photo from September 2021, provided by Nord Stream 2 AG, shows Fortuna Fortuna experts working on the underwater connection during the final phase of the Nord Stream 2 gas pipeline in the Baltic Sea (Nord Stream 2 AG / Manual).
Due to the war in Ukraine, two Nord Stream gas pipelines under the Baltic Sea linking Russia to Germany suffered spectacular leaks caused by underwater explosions, with the EU pledging “the strongest possible response” to the sabotage. “.
Three large leaks identified since Monday on the Danish island of Bornholm, between southern Sweden and Poland, are visible on the surface with bubbles ranging from 200 meters to one kilometer in diameter, the Danish military announced on Tuesday, supporting images.
A satellite image taken on September 26, 2022, released by Planet Labs BBC on September 27, 2022, shows a gas leak at the Nord Stream 2 gas pipeline on the Danish island of Bornholm in the Baltic Sea (2022 Planet Labs BBC / Handbook)
The Nord Stream 2 gas pipeline experienced a sharp drop in pressure on Monday, followed a few hours later by Nord Stream 1, which runs through the Baltic.
European Commission President Ursula van der Leyen wrote on Twitter on Tuesday evening that she had “discussed the Nord Stream act of sabotage” with Danish Prime Minister Mette Frederiksen.
“It is crucial to investigate the incidents and shed full light on the events (…) Deliberate disruption of Europe’s active energy infrastructure is unacceptable and will lead to the strongest possible response,” said Ms van der Leyen.
Earlier, the Danish Prime Minister announced that “the authorities are clearly of the opinion that these were deliberate actions. We are not talking about an accident.”
A gas leak in the Nord Stream 2 pipeline was seen from a Danish Defense F-16 over the island of Bornholm. Photo released by the Danish Army on September 27, 2022 (Danish Defense / Manual)
“There have been explosions, it’s all about vandalism,” Swedish Prime Minister Magdalena Andersson resigned after a lost election on September 11, in charge of current affairs.
Like Denmark, Sweden does not see this as an act of aggression against it, as the incidents took place outside territorial waters and in exclusive economic zones.
According to Copenhagen, the leaks are expected to last “at least a week” until all the gas has escaped from the two structures.
The Swedish Seismological Agency recorded two underwater explosions, “probably due to explosions”, before the incident, as did its Norwegian and Danish equivalents.
– arm wrestling –
The subject of geopolitical arm-wrestling in recent months, two pipelines operated by a consortium that depends on Russian giant Gazprom are out of action as a result of the war in Ukraine. But both were full of gas.
Map of the area where gas leaks were detected along the Nord Stream 1 and 2 gas pipelines (AFP / )
With many eyes turned, the Kremlin said it was “very concerned” that the “no” hypothesis, including sabotage, should be ruled out.
In Kyiv, Ukrainian presidential adviser Mykhaïlo Podoliak condemned Moscow’s “planned terrorist attack” without providing evidence.
The Polish prime minister also suggested Russian intervention. “We clearly see that this is an act of sabotage, which will mark the next stage in the escalation of the situation in Ukraine,” said Mateusz Morawiecki, who opened a gas pipeline connecting Norway to Poland on Tuesday.
A photo released by the Danish military on September 27, 2022 shows a gas leak at the Nord Stream 2 gas pipeline, as seen from an aircraft, on the Danish island of Bornholm, in the Baltic Sea (Danish Defense / Manual)
“We are not ruling out any situation, but we are not going to speculate about motives or actors,” Swedish Foreign Minister Ann Linde explained.
“We don’t have any information yet on who is responsible,” Frederickson said.
On the US side, Washington refused to “endorse” a subversive act.
A spokesperson for the pipeline operator, Nord Stream Consortium, admitted that “it is not unusual for three pipelines to experience difficulties at the same time on the same day”.
– “Extremely Rare” –
Denmark sent two warships with helicopters to the scene, and put its energy infrastructure on orange alert, the second-highest alert level.
Nord Stream 2 gas pipeline facilities in Lubmin, northeastern Germany, near the border with Poland on March 1, 2022 (AFP / John MACDOUGALL)
After the incidents of the past 24 hours, “gas pipeline leaks are very rare, so we see reason to increase the level of awareness,” explained Danish Energy Agency director Kristofer Potsau.
For its part, the Norwegian government has decided to “strengthen emergency preparedness with regard to infrastructure and facilities on land and at sea on the Norwegian continental shelf”. In its press release, Oslo refers to “increased drone activity” and promises an investigation is underway.
Nord Stream 2, due for completion in 2021, is intended to double Germany’s ability to import Russian gas. Its mission was suspended in response to the invasion of Ukraine.
As for Nord Stream 1, Gazprom gradually reduced the amount of gas delivered until the pipeline was completely shut down at the end of August, blaming Western sanctions for delaying needed repairs to the facility.
In this November 8, 2011 file photo, (front row, from left) former French Prime Minister François Fillon, former German Chancellor Angela Merkel, Dutch Prime Minister Mark Rutte, former Russian President Dmitry Medvedev, former European Energy Commissioner Günter Lubmin (Germany) at Nord Stream 1 Erwin Cellering, former prime minister of the German region of Mecklenburg-Western Pomerania, opens a symbolic valve at a gas pipeline opening ceremony (AFP / John MACDOUGALL)
Navigation within a five-nautical-mile (about nine-kilometer) radius around the three spills is prohibited, as are overflights within a one-kilometer radius of them.
According to Danish authorities, these incidents have no consequences for the safety or health of local residents.
Although unflared natural gas has a powerful greenhouse effect, the direct environmental impact should also be minimal.
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