November 28, 2022

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EU suspects massive leak of Russian gas pipeline has sabotaged

EU suspects massive leak of Russian gas pipeline has sabotaged

  • An EU diplomat believes the sabotage likely caused the leaks
  • The Danish defense minister is concerned about the security of the Baltic Sea
  • The Danish Minister of Defense met with the President of NATO in Brussels

BERLIN/COPENHAGEN (Reuters) – Any deliberate disruption of the European Union’s energy infrastructure will face a “strong and united response”, the European Union’s top diplomat said, after several countries said two Russian pipelines to Europe were venting gas in the Baltic Sea. was attacked.

It is not yet clear who might be behind the leaks or any wrong game, if proven, on the Nord Stream pipelines that Russia and European partners have spent billions of dollars on building.

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

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The European Union believes sabotage likely caused the leaks discovered on Monday in Nord Stream pipelines, German broadcaster NTV Josep Borrell reported, echoing views broadcast by Germany, Denmark and Sweden on Tuesday. The EU has not mentioned the possible culprit or suggested a reason behind it.

“Any deliberate disruption of European energy infrastructure is totally unacceptable and will be met with a strong and united response,” Borrell said, according to NTV.

Meanwhile, the Danish Defense Minister said on Wednesday that there is cause for concern about the security situation in the Baltic Sea region after a meeting with NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg in Brussels.

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“Russia has a significant military presence in the Baltic Sea region and we expect them to continue their saber rattling,” Morten Podskov said in a statement.

Referring to how long it might take to ascertain the full extent of the damage and the cause of the leaks, Podskov also said it could be a week or possibly two before the areas around the damaged pipelines are calm enough to investigate.

Sweden’s prosecutors said it would review material from a police investigation into damage to the oil pipelines and decide on further action.

Swedish Prime Minister Magdalena Andersson told a news conference on Tuesday that two explosions had been detected in connection with the leaks. Although this did not constitute an attack on Sweden, Stockholm was in close contact with partners such as NATO and neighbors such as Denmark and Germany.

Seismologists in Denmark and Sweden said they recorded two powerful explosions on Monday in the vicinity of the leaks and that the explosions were in the water, not under the sea floor.

Nord Stream pipelines have been hot spots in an escalating energy war between capitals in Europe and Moscow that has hurt major Western economies, driven up gas prices and sparked a search for alternative supplies.

The Danish armed forces said the largest gas leak caused a surface disturbance more than 1 km (0.6 mi) in diameter, while agencies issued warnings for shipping to avoid the area.

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Norway said it would beef up security at its oil and gas facilities following leaks and reports of drone activities in the North Sea and Danish authorities asked to raise the level of preparedness in the energy and gas sector.

European and Moscow leaders say they cannot rule out sabotage. Map of Nord Stream pipelines and locations of reported leaks

gas flows

Nord Stream operator described the damage as “unprecedented”, while Gazprom (GAZP.MM)The company, which Russia controls and has a monopoly on gas exports through the pipeline, declined to comment.

Neither pipeline was pumping gas at the time the leaks were discovered, but the accidents have hampered any remaining expectations that Europe might receive fuel via Nord Stream 1 before winter, while there are also concerns about gas pipelines through Ukraine.

Analysts at ING Research said that “a development that may have a more direct impact on gas supplies to Europe was a warning from Gazprom that Russia may impose sanctions on Ukraine’s Naftogaz due to the ongoing arbitration.”

The CEO of Naftogaz said on Wednesday that the Ukrainian energy company will continue arbitration proceedings against Gazprom over Russian natural gas transiting the country.

Gazprom said earlier this week that it could impose sanctions on the company if it goes ahead with the case while rejecting all Naftogaz’s arbitration allegations.

“The risk is that these flows have come to a complete halt, which will only further tighten the European market as we head into the heating season,” ING analysts added.

European gas prices rose after the news of the leaks. The record price for October rose 11% to €204.50/MWh on Wednesday. Although prices are still below this year’s highs, they are still 200% higher than they were in early September 2021.

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Russia cut gas supplies to Europe via Nord Stream 1 before completely suspending flows in August, blaming Western sanctions for causing technical difficulties. European politicians say this was an excuse to cut off the gas supply.

The new Nord Stream 2 pipeline has not yet entered commercial operations. Germany scrapped a plan to use it to supply gas days before Russia sent troops to Ukraine in what Moscow calls a “special military operation” in February.

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Reporting by Reuters offices. Written by Alexander Smith. Editing by Louise Heavens

Our criteria: Thomson Reuters Trust Principles.