December 3, 2022

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The Nord Stream 2 gas pipeline spill ended up under the Baltic Sea

Amid conflict between Ukraine and Russia, four leaks occurred this week at Nord Stream gas pipelines in the Baltic Sea. The origin of these leaks and their authors are unknown.

The Nord Stream 2 gas pipeline connecting Russia to Germany has stopped leaking under the Baltic Sea, a Nord Stream 2 spokesman said on Saturday.

“The water pressure more or less seals the tube, so the gas inside can’t escape,” said Ulrich Liesek. “The conclusion is that there is still gas in the pipeline,” he added.

The Nord Stream 1 and 2 infrastructure, built to transport Russian gas to Europe, were damaged by an underwater explosion on a Danish island in the Baltic Sea on Monday, causing extensive seepage.

Information on the status of the Nord Stream 1 gas pipeline leak was not immediately available.

Weak leakage symptoms

The subject of geopolitical arm-wrestling in recent months, two pipelines operated by a consortium that depends on Russian giant Gazprom are out of action as a result of the war in Ukraine. But both were filled with gas.

On Friday evening, the Swedish Coast Guard announced that leaks in Nord Stream 2 showed major signs of weakening due to exhaustion of gas in the pipelines.

The leak in Nord Stream 1, which was more powerful, began to weaken by the end of the day on Friday, causing a sea to boil up to 600 meters in diameter, compared to 900 to 1000 at the start.

Danish and Swedish officials told the UN on Friday. In a letter to the Security Council, they estimated that the leaks should stop by Sunday as the pipelines have exhausted tens of thousands of tonnes of gas.

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“Intentional act”?

“All available information indicates that these explosions were the result of a deliberate act,” Sweden and Denmark said in an official statement submitted to the United Nations.

A report to the Security Council estimated the spills were caused by underwater explosions equivalent to “hundreds of kilograms” of TNT.

The origin of the explosions remains a mystery, however, with Moscow and Washington denying any responsibility. Ukraine says the leaks are the result of a “planned terrorist attack” by Russia against European countries.

NATO’s secretary general pledged on Friday that the allies would protect their strategic infrastructure and participate in an ongoing investigation “to determine who is behind these attacks.”

Juliet Desmonsaux with AFP