Europe investigates “sabotage” of Nord Stream gas pipelines 

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Europe is investigating the suspected sabotage of the Nord Stream pipelines which has caused major leaks into the Baltic Sea.

German Economy Minister Robert Habeck told business leaders the leaks were due to targeted attacks on the infrastructure and Berlin now knew for sure “that they were not caused by natural occurrences or events or material fatigue.”

 It remains unclear who might be behind the leaks that were first reported on Monday.

Sweden’s Prime Minister Magdalena Andersson told a news conference that two blasts had been detected in relation to the leaks.

Anderson added that though the blasts did not represent an attack on Sweden, her government was in close contact with partners such as NATO and neighbors such as Denmark and Germany concerning the developments.

Seismologists in Denmark and Sweden said they had registered two powerful blasts on Monday in the vicinity of the leaks.

“The signals do not resemble signals from earthquakes. They do resemble the signals typically recorded from blasts,” the Geological Survey of Denmark and Greenland (GEUS) said.

Also, seismologists at Sweden’s Uppsala University, which cooperates with GEUS, said the second, bigger explosion “corresponded to more than 100 kilos (kg) of dynamite”, adding the blasts were in the water not under the seabed.

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The leaks were very large and it could take perhaps a week for gas to stop draining out of the Nord Stream 2 pipeline, the head of Denmark’s Energy Agency Kristoffer Bottzauw said.

Ships could lose buoyancy if they entered the area.

“The sea surface is full of methane, which means there is an increased risk of explosions in the area,” Bottzauw said.

Sweden’s and Denmark’s prime ministers said the leaks were clearly caused by deliberate actions, with information suggesting likely sabotage, while Poland’s premier blamed sabotage, without citing evidence.

Russia and European partners spent billions of dollars building the Nord Stream pipelines.

Russia, which slashed gas deliveries to Europe after the West imposed sanctions over Moscow’s invasion of Ukraine, also said sabotage was a possibility and that the leaks undermined the continent’s energy security.

Kremlin spokesperson Dmitry Peskov called it “very concerning news. Indeed, we are talking about some damage of an unclear nature to the pipeline in Denmark’s economic zone.”

“We see clearly that it’s an act of sabotage, related to the next step of escalation of the situation in Ukraine,” Polish Prime Minister Mateusz Morawiecki said at the opening of a new pipeline between Norway and Poland.

Neither pipeline was pumping gas to Europe at the time the leaks were found, but the incidents will scupper any remaining expectations that Europe could receive fuel via Nord Stream 1 before winter.

The Nord Stream pipelines have been flashpoints in an escalating energy war between capitals in Europe and Moscow that has damaged major Western economies, sent gas prices soaring and sparked a hunt for alternative supplies.

 

Zainab Sa’id

Source Reuters
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