The European Union believes that leaks in Russian gas pipelines have potential for sabotage

  • The EU ambassador believes that vandalism may have caused the leaks
  • Danish Defense Minister Concerned About Baltic Sea Security
  • Danish defense minister meets NATO chief in Brussels

BERLIN/COPENHAGEN, Sept 28 (Reuters) – Any deliberate disruption of the European Union’s energy infrastructure will meet with a “strong and united response”, its top diplomat was quoted as saying on Wednesday.

As gas continues to leak into the Baltic Sea, it’s unclear who is behind the leaks or any foul play on the Nord Stream pipeline, which Russia and its European allies have spent billions of dollars on.

Russia, which cut gas supplies to Europe after the West imposed sanctions over Moscow’s invasion of Ukraine, has said sabotage is a possibility and that the leaks undermined the continent’s energy security.

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The European Union believes sabotage may be to blame for the leaks found Monday in Nord Stream pipelines, German broadcaster NTV Josef Borrell was quoted as saying in Germany, Denmark and Sweden, which echoed the footage on Tuesday. The EU has not named a possible culprit or suggested a motive behind it.

“Deliberate disruption of the European energy infrastructure is completely unacceptable and will meet a strong and united response,” Borrell said, according to NTV.

Meanwhile, Denmark’s defense minister said Wednesday that there is cause for concern about the security situation in the Baltic Sea region following a meeting with NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg in Brussels.

“Russia has a significant military presence in the Baltic Sea region, and we expect them to continue the offensive,” Morten Bodskov said in a statement.

Swedish Prime Minister Magdalena Andersson told a press conference on Tuesday that two explosions had been identified in connection with the leaks. Although this did not represent an attack on Sweden, it was in close contact with partners such as NATO and neighbors such as Denmark and Germany.

Seismologists in Denmark and Sweden reported on Monday that they recorded two powerful explosions near the leaks, and that the explosions were in the water, not under the sea.

The Nord Stream pipelines have been flashpoints in the escalating energy war between capitals in Europe and Moscow, which has damaged major Western economies, driven up gas prices and prompted a hunt for alternative supplies.

Denmark’s armed forces said the massive gas leak caused a surface disturbance 1 kilometer (0.6 miles) in diameter, while agencies warned shipping.

European leaders and Moscow say they cannot rule out sabotage. Map of Nord Stream pipelines and locations where leaks are reported

Neither pipeline was pumping gas at the time the leaks were discovered, but the incidents dashed any remaining hopes that Europe could receive fuel via Nord Stream 1 before winter.

Operator Nord Stream called the damage “unprecedented,” while Gazprom (GAZP.MM)The Russian-controlled company, which has a monopoly on pipeline gas exports, declined to comment.

Norway has said it is beefing up security at its oil and gas installations and Danish authorities have asked its power and gas sector to step up preparedness after leaks and reports of drone activity in the North Sea.

Russia cut gas supplies to Europe via Nord Stream 1 before shutting down flows altogether in August, blaming Western sanctions for causing technical problems. European politicians say this is an excuse to cut off gas supplies.

The new Nord Stream 2 pipeline has not yet entered commercial operations. Germany scrapped plans to use it for gas supplies days before Russia sent troops into Ukraine in what Moscow called a “special military operation” in February.

European gas prices rose following news of leaks. The benchmark October Dutch price rose 11% to 204.50 euros/MWh on Wednesday. Although prices are below this year’s peak, they are 200% higher than they were at the start of September 2021.

In another twist to the Europe gas supply saga, Naftogaz’s chief executive said on Wednesday that the Ukrainian energy company will continue arbitration proceedings against Gazprom over Russian natural gas.

Gazprom said on Tuesday that while it would reject all of Naftogaz’s claims in arbitration, it could introduce economic sanctions against the company if it pursues the case.

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Report by Reuters Bureaus; By Alexander Smith; Editing by Louise Heavens

Our Standards: Thomson Reuters Trust Principles.

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