‘Everything points to Russia’: US and EU officials pissed off by pipeline blasts
In a statement on Wednesday, the Council of the European Union promised a « strong and united response » to the incidents, adding that « all available information indicates that these leaks are the result of a deliberate act ».
The EU statement did not name a suspected culprit, but others in Europe were less reluctant to blame Russia as the most likely cause of the pipeline ruptures, which created a massive leak of methane under the Baltic Sea after being detected on Monday.
« Unnoticed and conspiratorial damage to pipelines at a depth of 80 meters in the Baltic Sea requires sophisticated technical and organizational capabilities which clearly indicate a state actor, » Gerhard Schindler, former chairman of Germany’s Federal Intelligence Service, told the media. German. Papule. « Only Russia can really be considered for this, especially since it has the most to gain from this act of sabotage. »
Mykhailo Podolyak, adviser to Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy, called the incidents « a terrorist attack planned by Russia ».
Other government officials and analysts said that while the investigation into the leaks continued, the focus should be on securing other critical energy infrastructure in the United States and Europe.
« Everyone is assessing the situation and taking it from the angle of ‘If Russia was behind all this, why? “,” said Olga Khakova, deputy director for European energy security at the Atlantic Council, in an interview. She added: “Is this a threat to other infrastructure in Europe? And then, ‘What’s next?’ «
The United States and Europe must continue to coordinate and prepare sanctions against Russia in case it is found responsible, she said. The threat of a cyberattack on US and European infrastructure that could disrupt water flows and treatment, gas and electricity delivery remains high, she said.
« We still don’t know 100% that Russia was responsible », Khakova said. « But everything indicates that Russia is behind all this. »
Asked to comment on Wednesday, the White House National Security Council pointed to a tweet from National Security Advisor Jake Sullivanwho said on Tuesday that the United States « supports investigative efforts and we will continue our work to safeguard Europe’s energy security. »
During a press conference on Tuesday, Secretary of State Antony Blinken played down the impact of the incident on European energy supplies. U.S. energy companies are shipping liquefied natural gas to Europe as part of an effort to offset supply disruptions caused by Russia’s war on Ukraine, though that effort is hampered by limited capacity, and the United States are working with allies to ensure as much reserve LNG as possible is heading to European shores.
“It is my understanding that the leaks will not have a significant impact on Europe’s energy resilience,” Blinken said. « We are working to continue to increase Europe’s LNG supply in cooperation with global partners, including in the Indo-Pacific. »
Some energy security veterans said the motives for the leaks aren’t hard to discern.
David Goldwyn, who led the State Department’s energy program under former President Barack Obama, said it was ‘unequivocal’ that Russia was behind the attack, noting it had executed something similar on a gas pipeline in Turkmenistan in 2009.
The message from Russia is clear, Goldwyn added: “Prepare for a life without Russian gas. … It’s a threat of a complete cut.
The leak ‘certainly puts additional things on the table’ for a summit of EU energy ministers scheduled for Friday, an EU official said, requesting anonymity to discuss sensitive strategy information energy of the continent.
The official said the EU had already drastically reduced its use of Russian gas, which fell to 9% of the bloc’s imports from 40% before the war. The EU has exceeded its gas storage targets for the winter, shifted energy consumption to off-peak hours and regularly hires gas suppliers.
That said, the official acknowledged, the leak had everyone wondering « how low can we go to survive the winter? » And, the person said, the continent is considering strategies for « the long game » on life without Russian gas.
« In a moment of crisis, there have already been very, very significant pivots from all corners, » the official said. « It’s going to add another layer of resolution behind all the actions that are already happening. »
What is deactivation pipelines will mean for markets is still pending. The explosions put the pipelines out of service for the foreseeable future, removing what had been a potential source of natural gas in Europe when it eventually restarted. That makes it much more unlikely that global natural gas prices will fall anytime soon, market analysts said.
European natural gas prices had fallen to nearly $50 per million British thermal units earlier in the week, according to European analyst firm Rystad Energy – significantly lower than they had been in recent weeks but still eight times the price in the United States. But they have since started to rise again on news of damage to Nord Stream pipelines.
« We can’t expect prices to come down anytime soon – at least not until we see some form of improvement in supply, » Rystad Vice President Emily McClain said in a statement. an analyst’s note.
Benchmark U.S. natural gas prices rose 3% on Wednesday afternoon, though they were still down from a week ago on worries about a slowing economy.
U.S. liquefied natural gas exporters ship 60 percent of their cargoes to Europe to compensate for the loss of Russian gas to Germany and other countries. But the export factories are already run as fast as they can, and Freeport LNG, one of Europe’s largest natural gas suppliers, remains offline until at least November after suffering an explosion earlier this year.
With one less pipeline available to deliver natural gas to Western Europe, the region will become even more dependent on imported gas and drive up prices for that commodity, said Charlie Riedl, director of the Center for Liquefied Natural trade association. Gas.
“This will clearly have an impact on prices in Europe and will further increase the global gas price,” Riedl said in a text message. The trading companies « will probably route all cargo to Europe given the price ».