The two Nord Stream gas pipelines between Russia and Germany, out of service due to the war in Ukraine, suffered sudden and unexplained gas leaks into the Baltic Sea, Swedish and Danish authorities said on Tuesday, raising suspicions of sabotage.
Following the announcement on the eve of a leak in the Nord Stream 2 gas pipeline, the authorities of these two Nordic countries announced on Tuesday the detection of two gas leaks in the Nord Stream 1, with bubbling up to a kilometer in diameter, announced the Danish army that released images.
“The largest (of the bubbles) shakes the surface in a kilometer in diameter. The smallest generated a circle of about 200 meters” in diameter, the Danish army explained in a statement about the leaks registered near the island of Bornholm. .
The Swedish Seismological Institute announced that they registered two underwater explosions before the leaks in the gas pipelines.
The subject of geopolitical tensions in recent months, these two gas pipelines operated by a consortium dependent on the Russian giant Gazprom are not operational due to the war in Ukraine, but they are still full of gas.
Russia said it was “extremely concerned” about the detected leaks and added that it does not rule out “any hypothesis”, including sabotage, Kremlin spokesman Dmitri Peskov said.
Like the one recorded the day before on Nord Stream 2, these leaks are located off the Danish island of Bornholm, one in the exclusive economic zone of Denmark and the other in Sweden.
The Danish prime minister said it was “hard to imagine that it was an accident” and added that sabotage could not be “excluded”.
Nord Stream, the consortium that operates the pipeline, said that for the time being it has not been able to observe or assess the damage, but acknowledged the exceptional nature of the situation.
“An incident where three pipelines simultaneously experience difficulties on the same day is not ordinary,” a spokesman told AFP.
Despite the uncertainty about the cause of the leaks, Denmark immediately put all its energy infrastructure on alert.
“Gas pipeline leaks are extremely rare and therefore we see a reason to increase the level of vigilance following these incidents that we have witnessed in the last 24 hours,” the director of the Danish Energy Agency, Kristoffer, explained in a statement. Böttzauw.
In it he promised “in-depth surveillance of Denmark’s critical infrastructure.”
The Scandinavian country raised the alert in the electricity and gas sector to the orange level, the second highest, and prohibited navigation within a radius of 5 nautical miles (about 9 kilometers) around the leaks and overflight within a radius of one kilometer. .
Concrete measures to strengthen the safety of factories and facilities must be implemented by companies in the sector.
The consortium that operates the gas pipelines had already announced on Monday night a sudden drop in pressure in the Nord Stream 1.
Germany’s economics ministry said on Monday it does not expect this to have an impact on the country’s energy security, given that there has been no flow of gas through the pipeline since Russian deliveries were stopped in early September.
“We do not expect any impact on the security of supplies,” a ministry spokesman said in an emailed statement.
On Tuesday morning, both Danish Climate and Energy Minister Dan Jørgensen and Swedish maritime authorities confirmed two leaks in the pipeline.
“Against a coincidence”
Built alongside its predecessor, the Nord Stream 2 gas pipeline was to double Russia’s import capacity to Germany. But its imminent start-up was suspended due to retaliation against Moscow for the invasion of Ukraine.
The German authorities did not comment on the facts for now. But according to a source close to the government quoted by the German newspaper Taggesspiegel “everything speaks against a coincidence.”
“We cannot imagine a scenario that is not a targeted attack,” said this source.
According to the Danish authorities, the incidents do not affect the country’s energy supply or the safety or health of residents of the nearby islands of Bornholm and Christiansø.
Coinciding with these incidents, the Danish Prime Minister, Mette Frederiksen, together with her Norwegian and Polish counterparts, inaugurated the Baltic Pipe, a gas pipeline that will link Poland and Norway through Denmark.