EU pledges to protect energy network after Russian gas pipeline ‘sabotage’

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BERLIN/COPENHAGEN – The European Union on Wednesday promised a « robust » response to any intentional disruption of its energy infrastructure after saying it suspected sabotage was behind gas leaks discovered this week on pipelines Russian submarines to Europe.

As the gas spewed under the Baltic Sea for a third day after it was first detected, it remained far from clear who might be responsible for any sabotage of Nord Stream pipelines that Russia and its European partners have been spending billions of dollars to build.

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Russia, which cut gas supplies to Europe after the West imposed sanctions against Moscow’s invasion of Ukraine, has also said sabotage is a possibility.

« Any deliberate disruption of Europe’s energy infrastructure is completely unacceptable and will be met with a strong and united response, » EU foreign policy chief Borrell said.

Echoing the views of Germany, Denmark and Sweden, he said the EU believed sabotage was likely to be the cause, although the EU did not name a potential perpetrator or suggested mobile.

The United Nations Security Council will meet on Friday at Russia’s request to discuss damage to Nord Stream pipelines, the French UN mission, which chairs the 15-member council for September, said.

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The Russian Embassy in Denmark has declared that any sabotage of Nord Stream pipelines is an attack on the energy security of Russia and Europe.

Nord Stream pipelines have been flashpoints in a growing energy war between European capitals and Moscow that has hurt major Western economies and sent gas prices skyrocketing.


The Danish Defense Minister said after a meeting with NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg that there was cause for concern about the security situation in the region.

« Russia has a significant military presence in the Baltic Sea region and we expect it to continue its heist, » Morten Bodskov said in a statement.

Norway’s prime minister said on Wednesday that his army will be deployed near oil and gas installations, while Denmark raises its level of preparedness.

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« The military will be more visible in Norwegian oil and gas installations, » Norwegian Jonas Gahr Stoere told a press briefing.

In the Baltic Sea, gas was still bubbling from the Nord Stream 1 pipeline, the Swedish coast guard said in an email.

The Danish Energy Agency said more than half of the gas in Nord Stream’s damaged pipelines had left the pipes and the remaining volume was expected to be gone by Sunday.

Jens Schumann, managing director of gas pipeline network company Gasunie Deutschland, said he was « relatively optimistic » about the possibility of repairing the damage.

“There are good teams in place to handle pipeline accidents, there are emergency pipe inventories and experts for onshore and offshore,” Schuman said.

But German security agencies fear Nord Stream 1 could become unusable if large volumes of salt water flow through the pipes and cause corrosion, German newspaper Tagesspiegel reported, citing government sources.

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The Danish Armed Forces said the largest gas leak caused a surface disturbance more than a kilometer (0.6 mile) in diameter as the agencies issued shipping warnings.

Sweden’s public prosecutor’s office said it would consider evidence of a police investigation and decide on further action, after Swedish Prime Minister Magdalena Andersson said on Tuesday that two explosions had been detected.

Although this does not represent an attack on Sweden, Stockholm was in close contact with partners such as NATO and neighbors such as Denmark and Germany, Andersson said.

Seismologists in Denmark and Sweden said they recorded two powerful explosions near the leaks on Monday and that the explosions occurred in the water and not under the seabed.

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Operator Nord Stream called the damage « unprecedented », while Russian-controlled Gazprom, which has a monopoly on gas exports via pipeline, declined to comment.

While neither pipeline was delivering gas to Europe at the time, the incidents dashed any remaining expectations that Europe could receive fuel via Nord Stream 1 before winter.

« A development that could have a more immediate impact on Europe’s gas supply was a warning from Gazprom that Russia may impose sanctions on Ukraine’s Naftogaz due to ongoing arbitration, » they said. ING Research analysts.

Naftogaz’s CEO said on Wednesday that the Ukrainian energy company would pursue arbitration proceedings against Gazprom over Russian natural gas transiting through the country.

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Gazprom said earlier in the week that while rejecting all of Naftogaz’s arbitration requests, it could introduce sanctions against the company if it pursues the case.

“The risk is that these flows come to a complete halt, which will only further tighten the European market as the heating season approaches,” ING analysts added.

Gas prices in Europe rose after news broke of the leaks. The Dutch October benchmark price was up 11% to 204.50 euros/megawatt hour on Wednesday. Although prices are still below this year’s highs, they are still more than 200% above those of early September 2021.

Russia cut gas deliveries to Europe via Nord Stream 1 before completely suspending flows in August, blaming Western sanctions for causing technical difficulties. European politicians say it was a pretext to cut off the gas supply.

The new Nord Stream 2 gas pipeline had not yet entered into commercial operation. Plans to use it to supply gas were scrapped by Germany days before Russia began what it calls a « special military operation » in Ukraine in late February.

(Reporting by Reuters bureaus; Writing by Alexander Smith; Editing by Louise Heavens, Elaine Hardcastle and David Evans)



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