Both Nord Stream 1 (Russian natural gas pipeline) and Nord Stream 2 (Russian natural gas pipeline into Europe), experienced leakages near Sweden and Denmark. Mette Frederiksen, Denmark’s Prime Minister, stated that the leaks were not coincidences and were difficult to imagine.
It is believed that the first leak occurred overnight and was discovered early Monday morning in the NS2 corridor between Russia and Denmark.
Reuters reported that this happened within a day after the Tuesday launch by the Baltic Pipe. The Baltic Pipe will transport gas from Norway to Poland as part of a European effort in order to reduce the Russian supply. Frederiksen said that the Baltic Pipe would “remove power as an instrument of Russian energy” at its inauguration.
After the operator of the pipeline indicated a drop in pressure, two additional leaks were discovered on the NS1, northeastern Denmark’s island Bornholm. According to the Swedish Maritime Administration, one leak was located in the Swedish Economic Zone and the other was within the Danish Economic Zone.
Nord Stream AG, a network operator, stated that “destruction” occurred simultaneously on three strings on the Nord Stream system’s offshore gas pipelines. It is unclear how long it will take for the infrastructure to be restored.
Although the pipelines did not have gas under pressure, they were not in use at the time of the leaks.
Gazprom, a Kremlin-controlled energy company, suspended gas flow to Europe via NS1 in August due to technical difficulties allegedly caused primarily by Western sanctions. Europe imported 155 billion cubic meters of fuel from Russia in 2021. 35% of this was via the NS1.
However, the NS2 has yet to start commercial operations. They were indefinitely delayed before Russia invaded Ukraine.
Denmark imposed a ban on shipping within a radius of five nautical miles around the area after learning about the leaks. According to reports, a no-fly zone has also been established.
A thorough investigation is underway to determine the cause.
Below is footage from the Baltic Sea gas leakage shared by the Twitter account of Denmark’s Armed Forces.
— Forsvaret (@forsvaretdk) September 27, 2022
The Danish Ministry of Climate, Energy, and Utilities stated that it was too soon to determine the cause of the incidents, but suspicions of sabotage continue to mount.
Kristoffer Bottzauw is the Danish energy agency’s head. He stressed that “breaches of natural gas pipelines occur extremely rarely.”
One European security source said to Reuters that there are “some indications it is deliberate damage,” prompting the question: “Who would profit?”
Russia, which has been using the power it exports in order to retain some political influence over Europe, stated that the leak was a concern. Dmitry Peskov (a Kremlin spokesperson) suggested that “No option is possible right now.”
Polish Prime Minister Mateusz Morawiecki specifically called the leaks “sabotage” and related to the next stage of the escalation in Ukraine’s situation.
Der Tagesspiegel reports that one German government source said he or she couldn’t think of a scenario without a targeted attack. All evidence points to a coincidence.
Jakob Hanke Vela, Politico’s German Editor, said that other German officials believe the leaks were deliberate.
NEW: German economy ministry confirms sudden loss of pressure on Nord Stream 1, following leak on Nord Stream 2.
Accident highly unlikely, officials in Berlin believe both pipelines have been attacked.
Ministry says supply not affected as no gas was flowing thru pipes anyways.
— Jakob Hanke Vela (@HankeVela) September 26, 2022
During Russia’s war against Ukraine, much has been written about these pipelines and the energy that they supply Europe.
Over the years, many activists have protested pipeline construction and maintenance. In May 2019, for example, activists occupied a Nord Stream construction site in northern Germany to protest the pipeline’s construction.
Former President Donald Trump and other political leaders have also criticized the pipelines. In many cases, they are calling for their sanction, citing Russia’s geopolitical leverage.
The Nord Stream 2 pipeline was opposed by Ukraine both before and after Biden’s administration gave up its opposition to Russian completion.
Biden made a pivot this year, hinting in vague terms that he may “bring an end to Nord Stream 2”.
Pres. Biden: “If Russia invades…then there will be no longer a Nord Stream 2. We will bring an end to it.”
Reporter: “But how will you do that, exactly, since…the project is in Germany’s control?”
— ABC News (@ABC) February 7, 2022
It’s cold outside
Europe is in an energy crisis. Eastern Europe is seeing people stock up on firewood. European governments are considering energy rationing for this winter. The EU has already requested that member countries reduce their gas consumption by 15%.
Russian President Vladimir Putin suggested that he might leave Europe to “freeze” earlier this month, saying, “We won’t supply anything at any time if it is against our interests.” … We won’t supply gas, oil, or coal — we won’t supply anything.
Even if Russia reversed its course and diplomacy prevailed, it is not clear if it will take days, weeks, or months to repair the pipelines and restore westward energy flow.