Another leak on the Nord Stream 1 and 2 natural gas pipelines in the Baltic Sea has been disclosed, bringing the total number of ruptures to four, according to the Swedish Coast Guard’s Command Center.
Sweden’s Coast Guard became aware of two leaks in the pipelines in the country’s exclusive economic zone on Monday, at the same time they learned of two in Denmark, a spokesman said by phone. Officials put the information on their website, but were “surprised” that it wasn’t known broadly, with just one leak near Sweden talked about in the past days, the spokesman said. Local media in the Nordic country began reporting on the fourth leak late Wednesday.
It isn’t known where exactly the leaks are located on the pipes’ structures, according to the spokesman. The Coast Guard is monitoring the site, and has a remote-controlled underwater robot on location.
Gas has been bubbling up from the pipelines since earlier this week, with Denmark estimating that the links would empty by Sunday. Several governments have called the actions “deliberate” and “sabotage,” with Finland on Wednesday noting that only a state actor could be capable of acts on such a scale.
The incident has prompted increased security on energy infrastructure across Europe, with some, such as Poland, pointing the finger at Russia, which is waging war in Ukraine and has curbed gas flows to Europe. Norway is now Europe’s biggest gas exporter and its largest energy companies said Wednesday that they are boosting security around their offshore assets.
The Nord Stream pipelines traverse the Baltic Sea to Germany from Russia, running on the seabed in international waters. Two leaks are in Sweden’s economic zone, and two in Denmark’s. The bubbling areas above the leaks in Sweden’s zone measure about 800 meters (2,600 feet) in diameter above pipeline 1 and about 150 meters above pipeline 2, respectively, according to the Coast Guard.
The pipelines were already out of action, but any hope that the Kremlin might have turned the taps back on at some point have now been dashed. Police in Denmark and Sweden are investigating the events.
Russia has been squeezing energy supplies to Europe for months, engaging in a cat-and-mouse game as it tries to exert maximum pressure on Ukraine’s allies. Europe has responded by filling up gas stores and trying to source alternative supplies.
For now, it looks like those efforts will be enough to get Europe through this winter, though questions remain over the following one. The bloc got about 40% of its pipeline gas from Russia before the war, a figure that now stands at about 9%.
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