Massive gas leaks were detected in the Nord Stream 1 and 2 pipelines from Russia to Germany. Denmark’s armed forces on Tuesday released video showing bubbles rushing to the surface of the Baltic Sea above the pipelines, and said that the gas leak, touted to be amongst the largest, had caused surface disturbance of well over 1 kilometre in diameter.
Other possible causes which range from technical malfunctions to the lack of maintenance have been ruled out. The evidence shows the damage at the seismic level certainly did not take place due to natural occurrences or material fatigue. Local seismologists reported that explosions sent ripples in the Baltic Sea.
Speaking with the Financial Express online, the Danish Ambassador Freddy Svane explained his government position on the matter and said, “The gas leaks were caused by two carefully timed explosions, but added that “Danish authorities do not currently have a basis for attribution.”
While the gas supply is halted due to the Russia-Ukraine war which led to the energy standoff, the gas stored in the pipes is now leaking into the Baltic Sea.
Denmark’s Defence Minister Morten Bødskov told the local reporters that a ship has been sent to the area to investigate the marine environment.
Nord Stream has called the leaks on three strings of the offshore gas pipelines “unprecedented”. Though the exact cause is not yet clear, experts say such leaks are very rare.
The Kremlin added that it did not rule out sabotage as a reason behind the damage, adding it was an issue affecting the energy security of the “entire continent”.
Ambassador Freddy said his government is in contact with a number of Foreign Minister colleagues on the matter including EU’s Joseph Borrel and Ministers in Latvia, Poland, Sweden and Germany and additional bilateral conversations on this matter are scheduled.
Sweden’s Prime Minister, Magdalena Andersson told reporters that intelligence teams, both from Sweden and Denmark pointed in the same direction, “We have Swedish intelligence, but we have also received information in our contacts with Denmark, and based on this concluded that this is probably a deliberate act. It is probably a matter of sabotage.”
But it remained far from clear who might be behind the leaks or suspected foul play.
The European Union suspects that damage to two underwater natural gas pipelines was a sabotage and has warned potential retaliation of any attack on Europe’s energy networks.
EU foreign policy chief Joseph Borrell said in a statement on Wednesday that, “All available information indicates those leaks are the result of a deliberate act,” on behalf of the 27 EU member countries. “Any deliberate disruption of European energy infrastructure is utterly unacceptable and will be met with a robust and united response.”
How was the gas leak identified
The operator of the Nord Stream 2 gas pipeline reported a sudden drop in pressure overnight and it raised alarms over the possible malfunctioning of the Nord Stream 1 pipeline. Two leaks were detected on the Nord Stream 1 pipeline, which stopped delivering gas to Europe last month, both in an area northeast of the Danish Island of Bornholm.
Each line of the pipeline is loaded with 100,000 24-tonne concrete-weight coated steel pipes laid on the seabed. The pipelines have a constant internal diameter of 1.153 metres, according to Nord Stream and it remains at a depth of around 80-110 metres.
The Nord Stream 1 and Nord Stream 2 were conceptualised after many years of tense political effort but have been shut down due to the ongoing crisis.
The Nord Stream 1 pipeline stretches 1,200km (745 miles) under the Baltic Sea from the Russian coast near St Petersburg to north-eastern Germany. It opened in 2011 and can send a maximum of 170m cubic metres of gas per day from Russia to Germany.
Another project , the parallel pipeline – Nord Stream 2 – was halted due to the Russia-Ukraine war. Both Russia and European partners spent billions of dollars building.
But what is important to realise is that the repair work will not start immediately as it might take up to a week to empty the pipes.
Potential blow to Europe ahead of winter
“Certainly, the looming energy crisis is on our mind and together within the EU we are trying hard to mitigate that. But anyway, it will not impact as pipes are already shut down and there is no supply,” said a senior diplomat, who represents the region in India.
The wholesale price of gas in Europe has increased by 20 percent. Without having any alternative plans, it might escalate even further. Efforts are on to get alternative supplies of gas from Norway and the Netherlands and Algeria.