Avoid: what happened to the Nord Stream gas pipelines

MOSCOW, Sep 27 – PRIME. The simultaneous leak on three lines of the Nord Stream and Nord Stream 2 pipelines effectively put an end to this gas export route to Europe for at least a few months. There are no official versions of the reasons for what happened yet, unofficially they have already started talking about a possible sabotage. At the moment, all interested parties are investigating.

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TWO PIPES IN ONE DAY

An unexpected drop in pressure on line A of the Nord Stream 2 gas pipeline laid in the waters of the Baltic Sea (built but never put into commercial operation, filled with technical gas) was announced on the afternoon of September 26, 2022 by the pipeline operator, the Swiss company Nord Stream 2 A.G.

Some time later, the Swiss operator of Nord Stream, Nord Stream AG, also announced an emergency on its gas pipeline: a decrease in pressure was detected on both threads of the route (stopped at the end of August, but subject to commercial operation and filled with gas). At the same time, the destruction that occurred simultaneously on three strings of the offshore gas pipelines of the Nord Stream system is unprecedented, the repair time cannot be estimated, and the reasons are being investigated, the company said.

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On the morning of September 27, a gas leak in both “streams” in the waters of Denmark and Sweden was confirmed by the Swedish regulator. The Danish Maritime Authority clarified that in the exclusive economic zone of Denmark, southeast of the island of Bornholm, there was a gas leak, which “may be dangerous for navigation.” The Danish Energy Agency has confirmed that this particular leak is a direct result of a sharp drop in pressure on one of the pipeline’s strings.

As a security measure, a five nautical mile radius zone has been established in the emergency area, the Danish Maritime Authority has sent out navigational warnings via (international warning system) Navtext and VHF, according to which ships are advised to bypass the area.

The Swedish Maritime Authority has recommended a safe flight altitude of 1,000 meters above the accident site for aircraft. EU officials have been notified of the incidents and are being investigated.

REASONS: OFFICIAL AND NOT VERY

No official reason for the leak was announced. The coast services of Germany, Denmark, Sweden, Finland and Russia have been notified of the incident, and an investigation is underway, officials said.

The reaction from Russia was made by the press secretary of the President Dmitry Peskov. According to him, violations in the Nord Stream pipe are an unprecedented situation that requires urgent investigation, and the Kremlin is extremely concerned about this. He, citing Gazprom and the operator company, clarified that it was about destruction in the Danish economic zone, but he also kept silent about the nature and causes of the destruction.

Polish Prime Minister Mateusz Morawiecki believes that technical problems on the Nord Stream gas pipeline are the result of sabotage, but he did not specifically blame anyone for this.

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The first unofficial versions have already appeared: for example, the German publication Tagesspiegel, citing its sources, voiced the assumption that the pressure in the two pipelines could fall due to targeted sabotage. “We can no longer imagine a scenario that is not a deliberate diversion … Everything speaks against a coincidence,” the newspaper quoted a source familiar with the assessment of the federal government and federal agencies as saying.

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In favor of the assumption that the leaks were due to sabotage, an unnamed German security official also spoke out. Evidence indicates that it was a power action, rather than a technical problem, Bloomberg writes with reference to it. In Russia, this scenario is also not ruled out – as long as the results of the investigation are unclear.

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Russian expert, deputy head of the National Energy Security Fund Alexei Grivach also suggested that the state of emergency looks like a sabotage by well-known opponents of Russian gas in Europe. In his opinion, the repair will take months.

The main opponent of Russian gas in Europe is the United States – they actively impeded the construction of Nord Stream 2, significantly dragging out its deadlines. The construction was completed, but in February 2022, Germany stopped the certification of Nord Stream 2 AG as the operator of the project. German Foreign Minister Annalena Berbock said that “the project is actually frozen.”

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Similarly, the implementation of Nord Stream 2 was hindered by Ukraine, fearing to lose revenues for the transit of Russian gas through its territory. Moscow, in turn, has repeatedly stated that this is a commercial project that is beneficial to Europe, and urged to stop mentioning Nord Stream 2 in the context of any kind of politicization.

As the main versions of the media, they mention the involvement of Ukrainian forces or forces associated with Ukraine in the incident, and also claim that this is an operation allegedly planned by Russia “under a false flag.” The goals in both cases are the same – to sow confusion and panic in the European gas market on the eve of winter. At a minimum, exchange prices for gas in Europe have already reacted to the situation. On Tuesday, they rose by 12%, quotes rose above $1,900 per thousand cubic meters.

According to sources familiar with the first assessments of what happened, sabotage on the seabed is not something “trivial”, since its implementation requires special forces and the corresponding highly professional equipment.


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