Mystery gas leaks hit major Russian undersea gas pipelines to Europe

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STOCKHOLM/COPENHAGEN – European countries scrambled on Tuesday to investigate unexplained leaks from two Russian gas pipelines that run under the Baltic Sea near Sweden and Denmark, infrastructure at the heart of an energy crisis since Russia’s invasion of Ukraine .

Sweden’s Maritime Authority issued a warning about two leaks on the Nord Stream 1 pipeline, shortly after a leak was discovered on the nearby Nord Stream 2 pipeline that had prompted Denmark to restrict shipping within five nautical miles.

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Both pipelines have been flashpoints in an escalating energy war between Europe and Moscow that has hit major Western economies and sent gas prices soaring.

At the time the leaks were found amid the dispute over the Ukraine war, neither pipeline was pumping gas to Europe, but both still contained gas under pressure. Incidents will hamper any efforts to start or restart any channel for business operations.

“Yesterday a leak was detected in one of the two gas pipelines between Russia and Denmark – Nord Stream 2. The pipeline is not operational, but it contains natural gas, which is now leaking,” said Denmark’s energy minister , Dan Jorgensen, in a writing. to comment

“The authorities have now been informed that there have been 2 more leaks in Nord Stream 1, which is also not operational but contains gas,” he added.

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Gazprom declined to comment.

Russia cut gas supplies to Europe through Nord Stream 1 before suspending flows altogether in August, blaming Western sanctions for causing technical difficulties. European politicians say it was a pretext to stop the gas supply.

The new Nord Stream 2 gas pipeline had just been completed but had not entered commercial operations. The plan to supply gas through the pipeline was scrapped by Germany days before Russia sent troops into Ukraine in February.


“There are two leaks in Nord Stream 1: one in the Swedish economic zone and one in the Danish economic zone. They are very close to each other,” a spokesman for the Swedish Maritime Administration told Reuters (SMA).

The leaks were located northeast of the Danish island of Bornholm, the spokesman said. It was not immediately clear what had caused the leaks.

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“We are keeping an extra watch to make sure no ships get too close to the site,” said a second SMA spokesman.

The Baltic Pipe, a new submarine pipeline delivering Norwegian gas to Poland with an annual capacity of 10 billion cubic meters per day, will be inaugurated on Tuesday.

Danish authorities have called for the country’s level of preparedness for the energy and gas sector to be increased following the leaks.

“Pipeline breaches occur very rarely… We want to ensure thorough monitoring of Denmark’s critical infrastructure in order to strengthen security of supply in the future,” said the head of the Danish energy agency, Kristoffer Bottzauw.

The increase in the level would mean that companies in the electricity and gas sector must implement measures to increase safety, for example, in plants, buildings and facilities.

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Ships may lose buoyancy if they enter the area and there may be a risk of ignition in the water and in the air, the Danish energy agency said, adding that there were no safety risks associated with the escape outside the exclusion zone.

He said the gas leak would only affect the environment locally, meaning only the area where the gas plume is in the water column would be affected.

There would be a detrimental effect on the climate due to methane gas escaping into the air, he said in a written comment. (Reporting by Reuters bureaus; Writing by Matthias Williams; Editing by Edmund Blair)



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