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Nord Stream pipelines could be damaged as a consequence of a sabotage

Matúš Bučko

Nord Stream 1 and Nord Stream 2 gas pipelines were damaged by three explosions on Monday, September 26. Nord Stream 1 pipeline was damaged in two spots while its twin was damaged in one spot. This happened near the Danish island of Bornholm at a depth of approximately 60-70 meters. Swedish experts noted at least two detonations on Monday, one of them around 2 AM and the second after 7 PM. Experts agree that it was not a work of nature. Björn Lund, director of the Swedish national seismic network (SNSN) stated that “there is no doubt that it was a blast or explosion.” Mike Fullwood, a senior research fellow at the independent Oxford Institute for Energy Studies said that “sabotage was, indeed, the most likely cause of the leaks.”

The politicians have no doubts about the cause. Danish PM Mette Frederiksen stated that it was not an accident, at the same time she did not name any suspect. The same vague stance was adopted by other Danish and Swedish politicians. Polish PM Mateusz Morawiecki called this the “next step of escalation of the situation in Ukraine.” Other representatives of the European Union give similar statements.

Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov stated that these events must be investigated. He called the accusations from representatives of the EU leaders “predictably stupid” and “absurd.” At the same time, he hinted that it might be the USA who stands behind the sabotage by pointing out the words of US President Joe Biden who said in February that if Russia invaded Ukraine, “there will no longer be a Nord Stream 2.” US representatives dismissed this accusation as nonsense.

Besides escalating the political tension, damaging the pipelines has also an environmental impact. Methane is sometimes also nicknamed “CO2 on steroids” – it is approximately 80 times more potent. Greenpeace warns that the leaks could have the same impact as 30 million tonnes of carbon dioxide. On the contrary, the German environment ministry said that the leaks are not a major threat to the sea life forms. Some of the experts also expressed the opinion that even though the leaked methane will negatively impact the environment, it is not a major blow in the struggle against climate change.

The Norwegian Ministry of Petroleum and Energy has already raised the level of security of oil platforms. Should it be proven that it was Russia who damaged the pipelines, it would open a new war front and the European leaders will be forced to protect their energetic networks. The United Kingdom has been warning for a long time that Russia poses a threat to the undersea cables. After Monday’s events, it seems that the British might be right in their concerns. Simone Tagliapietra, a senior fellow at the Bruegel think tank specializing in EU energy and climate policy said that it is necessary to raise the level of protection of critical energetic infrastructure. He also added that if something happens to the pipeline Baltic Pipe connecting Norway with Poland or the one from Algeria to Spain, it would pose a major problem to Europe.

Photo credit: / U.S. Army Corps of Engineers

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