Three Inquiries but no Answers for Who Blew Holes in Nord Stream Pipelines

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By georgeskef

The leakage of the pipelines has been investigated by Germany, Denmark, and Sweden. However, they are not revealing the cause or who may have done it.

A seismograph in Sweden picked up a strong disturbance after midnight on Monday, September 29th. The seismic activity jolted the Baltic Sea floor south of Bornholm. Bornholm was a former Viking outpost and is now a part of Denmark.

It happened again hours later, at 7 p.m. local. A series of underwater explosions occurred further off the island’s northeastern coastline.

photos showed huge methane bubbles bubbling on the ocean floor above the explosion sites. This confirmed reports of a loss of pressure in Nord Streams 1 & 2, the natural gas pipelines linking Russia and Germany.

A month ago, subsea explosions blew holes in Nord Stream pipelines. Now the leakage is stopped. First underwater images of the twisted steel and severed openings were published. Three countries are currently conducting investigations.

Investigators have not disclosed any details about their findings, other than acknowledging the use of explosives in deliberate sabotage. There is a lot of speculation as to who caused the explosions. Were the Russians trying to rattle the West or the Americans trying to cut off a Russian economic artery? Or were the Ukrainians seeking revenge against Russia? The truth is as hazy as the images taken from the Baltic Sea floor.

Denmark and Germany have launched separate investigations into leaks — Denmark because explosions took place in waters within their exclusive economic zones and Germany because that’s where the pipelines end.

Three days after the incident, Denmark and Sweden wrote to the U.N. Security Council on Sept. 29. They stated that they believed “several hundred kgs” of explosives were used to cause damage to the pipes. Each pipe measures over three-and-a-half feet in diameter, and is made of steel reinforced with a concrete coating.

All three countries refuse to provide any additional information. The increased caution has been prompted by the acute geopolitical tensions around the blasts, which occurred amid fierce fighting in Ukraine and an ongoing economic war between Moscow & the West.

Jens Wenzel Kristoffersen is a Danish Navy commander and military analyst at the Center for Military Studies, University of Copenhagen. “There’s a lot of secrecy still happening,” he said. They must be certain. They must have hard-core facts, not speculation when they are able to produce results.

Commander Kristoffersen stated that he thought it unlikely that any investigators would announce “until the smoking-gun evidence is available”.

He said that uncoordinated or tense findings could lead to reactions that are not helpful at the moment.

German authorities stressed that because of the complex nature of the forensic analysis of the damaged sites, “it will almost certainly not be possible to make any short-term reliable statements about authorship” or who perpetrated the attacks.

Gazprom, Russia’s state-owned natural gas monopoly, owns the pipelines. (Minority stakes to Nord Stream 1 are held in part by four other energy companies, Wintershall Dea, E. On and Gasunie in France.

Russian officials complained that they were prevented from investigating the sites of the explosions. Dmitri Sidkov, a Kremlin spokesperson, claimed that the Europeans conducted the investigation “secretively” without Moscow’s permission. According to statements from Germany, France, and Denmark, the investigation was “secretively” set up to place blame on Russia, Reuters quotes Mr. Peskov.

The twin, 760-mile-long pipelines that run from Russia’s northwest coast to northeastern Germany’s Lubmin have been the focal point of international tension. The original Nord Stream was completed in 2011 at a total cost of over $12 billion. It was criticized for being an expensive way for Gazprom, to ship gas to Germany and avoid paying transit fees to Ukraine.

Many years later, the idea for Nord Stream 2, a sibling pipe that would double the original’s power, was rejected by many Central and Eastern European countries as well as the United States. They warned that it would allow Moscow to increase Germany’s dependence on Russian gas. Despite the completion of the $11 billion pipeline last year, German authorities put it on hold just before Russia invaded Ukraine.

The newer pipeline was never used and the original one hasn’t delivered gas since July due to technical issues. Both were filled with high-pressure methane to ensure that the pipes can withstand the water pressure at the sea floor. Each Nord Stream is composed of two strands that run along the seafloor. Both strands of Nord Stream 1 were impacted by explosions, but only Nord Stream 2 was affected. The other strand is intact.

Last week, the Swedish tabloid Expressen published murky images that pointed to the power of the blast that struck Nord Stream 1. They seemed to indicate that several sections of the main pipeline were cut.

Trond Larsen is a submersible drone pilot whose images were requested by the Swedish newspaper. He pointed out that when the pipes burst the high-pressure gas — nearly 3,200 pounds per sq inch — disturbed and appeared to bury portions of the pipe.

Larsen stated that he believed he saw the portion of the pipe running west still buried under the seafloor. The end of the pipe running east was lifted from the seafloor in a telephone interview. Larsen said that there was not much debris around the area due to the rush of gas or the fact that it was already being removed by the Swedish investigators.

German investigators sent last week a vessel with underwater drones, and a diving robotic to search the same area for additional evidence of the explosion.

The Danish authorities have not lifted restrictions on their economic waters above the blast site. These were closed to shipping traffic as safety precautions.

The explosions occurred in a busy maritime corridor, which is frequented daily by merchant traffic, fishing boats, and military vessels from NATO countries, as well as those that border the Baltic Sea.

Patrols have been intensified in the Baltic Sea and North Sea since the explosions. This region is home to a large network of cables and pipes connecting Norway, Europe’s largest energy exporter, to Britain and Europe’s mainland. Security is high at the Baltic Pipe recently opened, which carries Norwegian natural gas to Poland. It crosses the Nord Stream arteries that run along the seabed near the blast sites.

Russian President Vladimir Putin said this month at an energy conference that delivering natural gas from Russia through the Nord Stream 2 remaining strand would be as simple as “just turning on a tap.” He also urged Germans last October to approve his pipeline.

In comments to Russia’s Channel One television station, Alexei Miller (Gazprom’s chairman), suggested that it might be easier to rebuild the pipeline than it would repair it. He also acknowledged that such a move would require German interest, and the resolution of regulatory, legal, and sanction issues.

Germany’s leaders realized the error of making their powerful economy too dependent on Russian gas after years of neglecting the protests of their Eastern European neighbors. Some of these countries share borders with Russia and have a long history of dealing with Moscow.

Instead of investing in liquefied natural gases, investments are being made to secure and connect floating terminals for shipments from the United States and other countries. One of these terminals will be constructed off the coast of Lubmin. It will allow the onshore pipelines, which were previously used to get Russian gas through Nord Stream, to carry L.N.G.

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