29th Nov 2022

Foul play suspicions in Nord Stream leaks

  • An aerial picture of the gas leak taken from a F-16 fighter jet belonging to the Danish Armed Forces (Photo: Danish Defence)
Listen to article

Sweden's maritime authority said on Tuesday (27 September) it had detected two leaks on the Nord Stream 1 pipeline, shortly after Danish authorities discovered a leak in Nord Stream 2.

Leaks were found both in Swedish waters, and another was spotted south of the Danish island of Bornholm.

Read and decide

Join EUobserver today

Become an expert on Europe

Get instant access to all articles — and 20 years of archives. 14-day free trial.

... or subscribe as a group

The cause of the leaks is still unclear, but the Danish and Swedish maritime authorities have introduced zones prohibiting ships from sailing into the areas where the leaks are.

In a warning notice, the Danish authorities late on Monday instructed ships to steer clear of the island of Bornholm as the gas leak is "dangerous for marine traffic."

Local maritime agencies, including the German government, are working to find out what caused the leak.

"We are currently in contact with the authorities concerned to clarify the situation," the German economy ministry said in a statement. "We still have no clarity about the causes and the exact facts."

The pipeline's operator, Nord Stream AG, had reported a loss of pressure, which dropped from 105 to seven bars overnight.

It also disclosed a pressure drop in Nord Stream 1, which ran at reduced capacity in the summer before stopping supplies in August.

"The reasons are being investigated," the operator said on its website, but did not give further details.

Although the pipeline, completed in 2021, has never been used, it was filled with 117 million cubic metres of gas to prepare it for immediate delivery once activated.

According to the director of the Danish Energy Agency, Kristoffer Böttzauw, it is still too early to pinpoint the cause of the leaks.

"It could be a shipwreck, which goes directly down on these pipes; it may also be a construction defect; it may be a deliberate act," he said. "But it is, of course, worrying that there are three incidents roughly simultaneously."

But German network regulator president Klaus Mueller said in a tweet that the "repeated pressure drop" in both pipelines "underlines a tense situation."

Foul play suspicions

Although it is still unclear what caused the leaks, German newspaper Tagesspiegel on Tuesday cited security forces who suspect foul play.

"Everything speaks against coincidence," the anonymous source said, but an official explanation may not be forthcoming as divers have to inspect a hard-to-reach leak believed to be at a depth of 60 to 70 metres.

In a radio interview, German Green MP Jürgen Trittin said he assumed an attack happened.

The pipeline is "relatively new and built from solid and good German steel," he said. "There must have been a violent disruption of this pipeline."

Crude World

Nordstream 2: Alternative pipeline facts

Arguments put forward by Nord Stream 2's Brussels lobbyist in defence of the Russian-led project are not consistent and ignore some basic facts.

Russia cuts Nord Stream 1 gas to 20% capacity

It comes a day after EU governments approved a watered-down plan to curb gas demand by 15 percent, aimed at lowering consumption, building storage, and sharing supplies if Russia in future cuts all exports.

Underwater explosions were detected near Nord Stream leaks

Measuring stations connected to the Swedish National Seismic Network (SNSN) detected powerful underwater explosions close to the leaks in the Nord Stream 1 and 2 pipelines. Poland has already declared it "sabotage".


Can Europe protect its underwater cables from sabotage?

The sabotage of the Nord Stream pipelines was the first major attack on European maritime infrastructure. But while the EU Commission has a critical infrastructure directive in the works, it largely focuses on cybersecurity —not physical attacks.


How the gas lobby is fuelling the cost-of-living crisis

An investigation by COE reveals oil and gas lobbyists have enjoyed unprecedented access to EU decision-making. As a result, a series of critical decisions on tax, energy-infrastructure, and regulation put fossil-fuel industry profits above millions at risk of energy poverty.

Stakeholders' Highlights

  1. Nordic Council of MinistersCOP27: Food systems transformation for climate action
  2. Nordic Council of MinistersThe Nordic Region and the African Union urge the COP27 to talk about gender equality
  3. International Sustainable Finance CentreJoin CEE Sustainable Finance Summit, 15 – 19 May 2023, high-level event for finance & business
  4. Friedrich Naumann Foundation European DialogueGender x Geopolitics: Shaping an Inclusive Foreign Security Policy for Europe
  5. Obama FoundationThe Obama Foundation Opens Applications for its Leaders Program in Europe
  6. EFBWW – EFBH – FETBBA lot more needs to be done to better protect construction workers from asbestos

Latest News

  1. EU lawmakers under pressure to act on 90,000 asbestos deaths
  2. Post-COP27 optimism — non-Western voices are growing
  3. Legal scholars: Prosecuting Putin 'legally problematic'
  4. A missed opportunity in Kazakhstan
  5. EU's Hungary funds, China, energy, and Frontex This WEEK
  6. Sweden says 'no' to EU asylum relocation pledges
  7. The 'proof' problem with EU sanctions — and how to fix it
  8. The EU gas cap: will the bottle ever be 'uncorked'?

Join EUobserver

Support quality EU news

Join us