BLASTS NEAR LEAKS ON RUSSIAN GAS PIPELINES RAISE SABOTAGE CONCERNS

Sep 27, 2022

By Bob Komsic

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WARSAW, Poland (AP) — A series of unusual leaks on two natural gas pipelines running from Russia under the Baltic Sea to Germany triggered concerns about sabotage Tuesday, overshadowing the inauguration of a long-awaited pipeline that will bring Norwegian gas to Poland to bolster Europe’s energy independence from Moscow.
Seismic stations Sweden, Norway and Finland registered two explosions Monday near the leaks.
A member of Sweden’s national seismic network says the first blast was recorded in the early hours southeast of the Danish island of Bornholm.
The latter, stronger one that night was northeast of the island and equivalent to a magnitude-2.3 earthquake.
“We know very well what an underwater blast looks like. And so in this case, there’s no doubt this is not an earthquake,” said seismologist Bjorn Lund.
Polish Prime Minister Mateusz Morawiecki called the events “an act of sabotage,” while Danish Prime Minister Mette Frederiksen said she could not rule it out after three leaks were detected over the past day on the Nord Stream 1 and 2 pipelines, which are filled with gas but not delivering the fuel to Europe.
An energy standoff over Russia’s war in Ukraine halted flows on Nord Stream 1 and prevented them from ever starting in the parallel Nord Stream 2.
Frederiksen, Morawiecki and Polish President Andrzej Duda symbolically opened a valve of a yellow pipe belonging to the Baltic Pipe, a new system that will bring Norway’s gas across Denmark and the Baltic Sea to Poland.

 

 

 

 

President of Poland Andrzej Duda, fourth left, Prime Minister of Denmark Mette Frederiksen, fourth right, and Polish Prime Minister Mateusz Morawiecki, second right, take part in an opening ceremony of the Baltic Pipe in Budno, Poland, Tuesday, Sept. 27, 2022.

(AP Photo)

“The era of Russian domination in the gas sphere is coming to an end,” Morawiecki declared. “An era that was marked by blackmail, threats and extortion.”

No official presented evidence of what caused the Nord Stream problems, but with distrust of Russia running high, some feared Moscow sabotaged its own infrastructure out of spite or to warn that pipelines are vulnerable to attack.

The leaks off the coast of Denmark and Sweden raised the stakes on whether energy infrastructure in European waters was being targeted and leading to a small bump in natural gas prices.

“We can clearly see that this is an act of sabotage, an act that probably means a next step of escalation in the situation that we are dealing with in Ukraine,” Morawiecki said.

The Nord Stream pipelines have been at the center of an energy clash between Europe and Russia since the invasion of Ukraine in late February.

Plunging Russian gas supplies have caused prices to soar, pressuring governments to help ease the pain of sky-high energy bills for households and businesses as winter nears.

The crisis also has raised fears of rationing and recession.

The Baltic Pipe is a prominent element in the European Union’s search for energy security and is to start bringing Norwegian gas through Denmark and along the Baltic Sea to Poland on Oct. 1.

 

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