Kremlin: sabotage cannot be ruled out as reason for Nord Stream damage

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MOSCOW — The Kremlin said on Tuesday it did not rule out sabotage as the reason for damage to Russia’s Nord Stream pipeline network that caused unexplained leaks into the Baltic Sea.

The pipelines, designed to deliver gas from the Yamal Peninsula in Western Siberia directly to Germany, Europe’s biggest economy, have been at the center of an energy war between Russia and its traditional European customers over the conflict in Ukraine.

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Nord Stream AG, the network operator, said earlier on Tuesday that three offshore lines in the Nord Stream gas pipeline system suffered « unprecedented » damage in one day.

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When asked if sabotage was the cause of the damage, Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov told reporters: « No option can be ruled out at this time. »

The Kremlin, Peskov said, was very concerned about the situation, which required prompt investigation as it was an issue affecting the energy security of « the entire continent ».

“This is very worrying news. Indeed, we are talking about some unclear nature damage to the pipeline in the economic area of ​​Denmark,” Peskov said. “This is an issue related to the energy security of the whole continent. »

The Nord Stream 1 and Nord Stream 2 pipelines have a combined annual capacity of 110 billion cubic meters, more than half of Russia’s normal gas export volumes.

Sweden’s maritime authority has issued a warning about two leaks in the Nord Stream 1 pipeline, shortly after the discovery of a leak on the nearby Nord Stream 2 pipeline that prompted Denmark to restrict shipping within five nautical miles.

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Nord Stream AG said it was impossible to estimate when the operating capacity of the gas grid system would be restored.

Each line of the pipeline consists of approximately 100,000 steel tubes coated with 24-tonne concrete weights laid on the seabed of the Baltic Sea. The pipes have a constant inside diameter of 1.153 meters, according to Nord Stream.

Sections of the pipelines lie at a depth of approximately 80 to 110 meters.

The 1,224 km long Nord Stream 1 consists of two parallel pipelines with a nominal annual capacity of 27.5 billion cubic meters (bcm) each, running from Vyborg, Russia to the exit point in Lubmin, in Germany. It started supplying Germany in 2011.

Flows through the pipeline, which had been operating at only 20% capacity since July, were interrupted at the end of August and were not restarted following maintenance work.

Nord Stream 2, which operates almost in parallel with Nord Stream 1, was built in September 2021 but never launched because Germany refused to certify it. The project was completely halted just days before Moscow sent its troops to Ukraine on February 24. (Reporting by Reuters; editing by Guy Faulconbridge)


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