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Unprecedented, simultaneous damage to both Nord Stream pipelines; Norway warns of threats from unidentified drones flying over gas and oil platforms

nord stream 2 gas pipeline leak september 27 2022 danish defence command

A sharp drop in pressure has been detected on Nord Stream 1 and 2 gas pipelines on September 26, 2022. The investigation into the cause is in progress. On the same day, Norway’s oil safety regulator warned of threats from unidentified drones seen flying near their offshore oil and gas platforms.

Nord Stream AG – a Switzerland-based consortium for the construction and operation of the Nord Stream (Nord Stream 1) submarine pipeline between Vyborg in Russia and Greifswald in Germany, a key factor in securing energy security in Europe – announced on September 27 that the harm that occurred on the same day simultaneously on three lines of the Nord Stream 1 and Nord Stream 2 offshore gas pipelines was unprecedented, adding that it is not yet possible to estimate the recovery time frame.1

According to Reuters, Danish authorities on Monday, September 26, asked ships to steer clear of a five nautical mile radius southeast off Bornholm after a gas leak from the defunct Nord Stream 2 pipeline drained into the Baltic Sea.

“There are two leaks on Nord Stream 1 – one in Swedish economic zone and one in Danish economic zone. They are very near each other,” a Swedish Maritime Administration (SMA) spokesperson told Reuters.2

Later the same day, the operator of the Nord Stream 1 pipeline, which ran at reduced capacity from mid-June before shutting down completely in August, also disclosed a pressure drop on both lines of the Nord Stream 1 gas pipeline.

The Danish Defense Command released an image of Nord Stream 2 gas leak detected by their F-16 interceptor on Bornholm:

gas leak at nord stream 2 near bornholm
Gas leak at Nord Stream 2 on September 27, 2022. Credit: Danish Defense Command

The largest gas leak creates turbulence on the surface of 1 km (0.62 miles) in diameter. The smallest makes a circle of approximately 200 m (656 feet).

According to the SVT TV channel, the Swedish seismic center recorded 2 underwater explosions on the Nord Stream routes.

Following the three gas leaks on the Nord Stream gas pipelines in the Baltic Sea, prohibition zones have been established around the leaks for the sake of the safety of ship and air traffic, the Danish Defence Command said.5

Nord Stream 1 has two leaks northeast of Bornholm, Nord Stream 2 has one leak south of Dueodde, it added.

“The defense is supporting in connection with the authorities’ efforts regarding the leaks on the Nord Stream gas pipelines in the Baltic Sea. The frigate Absalon and the pollution control vessel ship Gunnar Thorson are on their way to carry out water monitoring at the exclusion zones, and the Danish Defence are also supporting with a helicopter capacity. In addition, the patrol ship Rota was in the area last night.”

Earlier today, Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov did not rule out that disruptions in the operation of the Nord Stream 1 and Nord Stream 2 gas pipelines could be sabotaged.1

“Now we can’t rule out any option,” he told reporters responding to a question from the Russian News Agency (TASS).

“Obviously, there is some kind of destruction of the pipe, and as for what caused it, before the results of the research appear, we cannot rule out any single way,” he added.

“Certainly, this is an issue related to the energy security of the entire continent.”

This alleged sabotage is far from trivial and was likely carried out using special forces, for example, divers or a submarine, Der Tagesspiegel daily reported.3

While neither pipeline was pumping gas to Europe at the time the leaks were found amid the dispute over the war in Ukraine, the incidents will scupper any remaining expectations that Europe could receive gas via Nord Stream 1 before winter.2

The leaks happened just before the ceremonial launch on Tuesday of the Baltic Pipe carrying gas from Norway to Poland, a centerpiece of Warsaw’s efforts to diversify from Russian supplies, Reuters reports.

Norway’s Petroleum Safety Authority warns of threats from unidentified drones

On the same day, September 26, Norway’s Petroleum Safety Authority (PSA) urged oil companies to be more vigilant over unidentified drones seen flying near Norwegian offshore oil and gas platforms, warning they could pose a risk of accidents or deliberate attacks.4

PSA said unidentified drones posed a risk to helicopters that transport offshore workers, could become an ignition source in areas with explosion hazard, or could be used for deliberate attacks.

The warning came after Equinor – Norway’s largest oil and gas company said it had notified authorities of sightings of drones of unknown origin flying near some of its platforms.

References:

1 Kremlin does not rule out disruption of Nord Stream pipelines could be sabotaged – TASS – September 27, 2022

2 Mystery leaks hit Russian undersea gas lines, raising European suspicions – Reuters – September 27, 2022

3 Pressure decrease in Nord Stream 2, Nord Stream allegedly sabotaged, says newspaper – TASS – September 27, 2022

4 Norway oil safety regulator warns of threats from unidentified drones – Reuters – September 26, 2022

5 Gas leak in the Baltic Sea – Danish Defence Command – September 27, 2022

Featured image credit: Danish Defense Command

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