- 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 networks will face a “strong and united response” after several countries said two Russian pipelines bound for Europe were attacked, causing gas to flow out, the European Union’s top diplomat said. Baltic Sea.
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.
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Josep Borrell said the European Union believed sabotage likely caused the leaks discovered on Monday, echoing views aired by Germany, Denmark and Sweden.
The EU has not mentioned the potential culprit or suggested a reason for the suspected sabotage.
“Any deliberate disruption of European energy infrastructure is totally unacceptable and will be met with a strong and united response,” Borrell said.
A statement issued by the Russian Embassy in Denmark said that any sabotage of Nord Stream pipelines is an attack on the energy security of Russia and Europe.
“The baseless accusations and assumptions that are now being put forward everywhere are aimed at creating information noise and preventing an objective and impartial investigation,” the Russian statement said.
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 Defense Minister said after a meeting with NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg that there is cause for concern about the security situation in the region.
“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.
Norwegian police said, on Wednesday, that they have strengthened security around the country’s oil and gas facilities, while the Danish authorities have asked to raise the level of preparedness in the country’s electricity and gas sector.
The volume of gas flowing from the Nord Stream 1 pipeline into the Baltic Sea was unchanged on Wednesday from the day before, the Swedish Coast Guard said in an email to Reuters.
Denmark’s Podskov said it could take a week or two before the areas around the leaks became calm enough to investigate, while there were differing views on potential fixes.
“There are good teams in place to deal with pipeline accidents, and there are emergency stocks of pipelines and experts onshore and offshore,” said Jens Schumann, managing director of Gas Pipeline Network Company Jasonni Deutschland.
“That makes me relatively optimistic that even the disagreement we saw there can be fixed,” he added.
But German security agencies fear that Nord Stream 1 will become unusable if large amounts of salt water flow into the pipes and cause corrosion, the German newspaper Tagesspiegel reported, citing government sources.
The Danish armed forces said the largest gas leak caused a surface disturbance more than 1 km (0.6 mi) in diameter, with agencies issuing shipping warnings.
Sweden’s public prosecutor said it would review material from a police investigation and decide on further action, after Prime Minister Magdalena Andersson said on Tuesday that two explosions had been detected.
Andersen said that while this did not constitute an attack on Sweden, Stockholm had been 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 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.
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 launched what it called a “special military operation” in Ukraine in late February.
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Reporting by Reuters offices. Written by Alexander Smith. Editing by Louise Heavens
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