Business & Economy

Denmark, Sweden blame Nord Stream gas pipeline leaks on sabotage

(Update 2: Adds info, re-ledes, changes dateline, headline)

Copenhagen, Sep 27 (EFE).- The governments of Denmark and Sweden on Tuesday declared the three leaks detected on Russia’s Nord Stream 1 and 2 gas pipelines to have been caused by “deliberate actions.”

The leaks were detected in recent days on portions of the pipelines within the exclusive economic zones of the Nordic countries albeit not within their national territories.

“It is the authorities’ clear assessment that these are deliberate actions, not accidents,” Danish Prime Minister Mette Frederiksen said at a press conference, having earlier told the country’s TV2 that while it was too early to draw conclusions, “it is hard to imagine it is a coincidence” given the nature of the leaks.

Her Swedish counterpart, Magdalena Andersson said an hour later at an appearance in Stockholm that the leaks were “probably” due to “sabotage.”

“We have Swedish intelligence, but we have also received information in our contacts with Denmark, and based on this (we) concluded that this is probably a deliberate act. It is probably a matter of sabotage,” said Andersson.

“It is not a matter of an attack on Swedish or Danish territory. But that said, the government is taking what happened very seriously, not the least in light of the current security situation on our close proximity,” she added, alluding to the war in Ukraine.

Neither of the two officials was publicly willing to speculate on the possible motive for the alleged sabotage or who carried them out, but both emphasized the seriousness of the incidents.

The conclusions reached by the authorities of both countries, who are continuing to gather information on the matter, are primarily based on the measurements made by their national seismic services, which detected explosions near where the undersea leaks occurred in one Swedish exclusive economic zone and two similar Danish zones.

Denmark’s Directorate-General for Energy, a few hours before the sabotage announcement, raised the gas and electric sector emergency to its second-highest level, meaning that security at power plants, buildings and installations will be increased.

Sweden adopted similar measures, along with neighboring Norway, the main exporter of natural gas and petroleum to Western Europe, although the latter country does not have any coastline on the Baltic Sea.

The Swedish National Seismic Network, meanwhile, reported that two underwater explosions were detected shortly before – and close to where – the leaks were found.

The European Commission had reported a few hours earlier that it had “taken note” of the situation, but it did not speculate on potential sabotage.

Denmark’s military detected two leaks in the Nord Stream 1, which has two branches, and one in the Nord Stream 2 near the island of Bornholm, a Danish territory in the Baltic Sea.

Images collected by Danish military aircraft showed one of the leaks emerging on the surface of the sea.

Nord Stream AG said on Tuesday the damage of the three offshore pipelines in one day was “unprecedented,” adding it was not able to say when they would be restored.

“The damage that occurred simultaneously to three offshore pipeline strings of the Nord Stream infrastructure on the same day is unprecedented. It is not yet possible to estimate the timing of the restoration of the gas transport infrastructure,” the Swiss consortium which operates Nord Stream 1 and 2 said.

Neither of the Nord Stream branches are delivering gas – Nord Stream 1 was halted in August with Russia claiming maintenance needs while Nord Stream 2 was shelved in response to Moscow’s invasion of Ukraine – but both were filled with pressurized gas at the time of the leaks.

The Kremlin said it was “very alarmed” by the rupture of the three pipelines.

“Until we have the results of the investigation, we cannot rule out anything,” the Kremlin’s spokesperson, Dmitry Peskov, said in his daily press conference on Tuesday.

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