9th Dec 2023

Finland: 'External activity' caused Baltic pipeline damage

  • The damaged underwater gas pipeline opened in 2020 and it goes from the Finish municipality of Inkoo until Paldiski, in Estonia (Photo: mwmbwls)
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An underwater gas pipeline and a telecom cable connecting Finland and Estonia had been temporarily shut down after the infrastructure suffered significant damage — which Helsinki blamed on unexplained 'external activity'.

The Finnish tabloid Iltalehti reported that government and defense forces suspect Russia of causing damage to the Baltic Sea gas pipeline connecting the two nations, citing a foreign and security policy source.

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"It is likely that the damage to both the gas pipeline and the data cable is caused by external activity. What specifically caused the damage is not yet known," said Finish president Sauli Niinistö in a statement on Tuesday (10 October).

The Finnish president spoke with Nato secretary-general Jens Stoltenberg on Tuesday and said Nato stood ready to offer assistance in their ongoing investigation. Finland became a Nato member in April, following the Ukraine invasion by Russia.

Gasgrid, which operates the gas pipeline between Finland and Estonia, identified a leak in the pipeline Baltic Connector on Sunday.

The operators said they started with an inspection of the pipeline to determine the location and extent of the damage two days ago, but that the operation will be carried out in stages during this week.

While the damage could take several months to be repaired, Gasgrid said Finland's gas system is stable and the supply of gas is secured.

This was also echoed by a statement from Niinistö on Tuesday. "Finland is prepared and our readiness is good. These events will have no effect on our security of supply," it reads.

Swedish foreign minister Tobias Billström said on X, former Twitter, that his country "stands ready to offer any help regarding the damage to undersea infrastructure".

Latvian president Edgars Rinkevichs, for his part, expressed deep concern over reports suggesting that external activity may have caused damage. "Looking forward to the results of the investigation. I express our solidarity and support to Finland and Estonia".

European gas prices rose by about 10 percent on Tuesday in wake of the reports.

The incident follows unusual explosions in the Nord Stream pipelines transporting gas from Russia to Germany last year — which was deemed by Nato members as "deliberate, reckless, and irresponsible acts of sabotage".

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Spain, Portugal and France reached a deal to create a submarine "green corridor" between Barcelona and Marseille to transport natural gas, and, at a later stage, green hydrogen.

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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".

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