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Sabotage not ruled out after discovery of Nord Stream gas pipe leaks

German sources and Russian authorities said they were not ruling out an act of sabotage after three leaks were discovered on the Nord Stream pipelines that carry gas from Russia to Europe via the Baltic Sea.

Copenhagen, 27 September 2022 (dpa/MIA) – German sources and Russian authorities said they were not ruling out an act of sabotage after three leaks were discovered on the Nord Stream pipelines that carry gas from Russia to Europe via the Baltic Sea.

German security sources told dpa the cause of the incidents had not been clarified, but there were indications of sabotage. Only a state actor could mount such an intervention due to its technical complexity, the sources said.

The Kremlin also reacted to the discovery of the leaks by saying that an act of sabotage could not be ruled out.

“Obviously, there is a destruction of the pipeline. As to what the reason is, there is no option that can be ruled out until the results of the investigation emerge,” spokesman Dmitry Peskov said, according to the Interfax news agency. “This is an absolutely unprecedented situation that needs to be resolved quickly.”

Earlier on Tuesday, Danish authorities said they had discovered a total of three leaks in the Nord Stream 1 and 2 gas pipelines.

Two of the leaks are located in the Nord Stream 1 pipeline to the north-east of the Baltic Sea island of Bornholm and another in the Nord Stream 2 pipeline to the south-east of the island, the Danish energy authority announced on Tuesday.

The Nord Stream 1 leaks are located in Danish and Swedish waters, while the Nord Stream 2 leak is located in Danish waters, the authority said.

On Monday night, severe pressure drops were detected in both pipelines. The average pressure of 105 bar dropped to 7 bar on the German side.

Ruptures in gas pipelines are extremely rare, which is why the so-called readiness level in the gas and electricity sector has been raised to the second highest level – “orange” – the energy authority said.

Neither of the pipelines are in operation, so the incidents have no implications for the gas supply in Europe.

Construction on the Nord Stream 2 pipeline was completed, but it was not put into operation due to Russia’s invasion of Ukraine in February.

More recently, Russia halted all deliveries through Nord Stream 1, citing maintenance work that could not be completed due to Western sanctions on the country.

“It’s very premature to speculate” on what caused the recently discovered leaks in the Nord Stream gas pipelines in the Baltic Sea, a European Commission spokesperson said.

Declining to comment on any potential indications of sabotage, commission spokesperson for energy, Tim McPhie, said the EU executive arm was monitoring the situation closely.

The environmental organization Friends of the Earth Germany (BUND) said the leaks posed a danger to marine life and ships.

There is a “danger of suffocation for the animals … particularly animals that cannot flee quickly,” said Nadja Ziebarth, head of BUND’s marine protection office. “At the water surface, there is an increased danger of explosion, so above all a danger for all ships.”

BUND also sees a potential climate hazard emanating from escaping methane. While pure methane that dissolves in the sea is non-toxic, the composition of the gas in the Nord Stream pipelines is not known.

“Since it is unclear exactly which mixture is transported via Nord Stream, unknown damage could be caused locally to the marine ecosystem by other gases,” Ziebarth said.

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