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NORD STREAM

Swedish institute says underwater ‘blasts’ recorded prior to Nord Stream leaks

Two underwater blasts were recorded prior to the discovery of three leaks on the Nord Stream pipelines linking Russia and Europe, a Swedish seismological institute said Tuesday as the unexplained leaks raised suspicions of sabotage.

Swedish institute says underwater 'blasts' recorded prior to Nord Stream leaks
A woman takes pictures of waves on the Baltic Sea near Warnemeunde, northeastern Germany, in 2017. Huge circles of foaming water appeared in the Baltic sea on Tuesday after reported leaks from the Nord Stream pipelines. Photo: Bernd Wüstneck/AFP/Ritzau Scanpix

The Swedish National Seismic Network recorded two “massive releases of energy” shortly prior to, and near the location of, the gas leaks off the coast of the Danish island of Bornholm, Peter Schmidt, an Uppsala University seismologist, told news wire AFP.

“The first happened at 2:03am just southeast of Bornholm with a magnitude of 1.9. Then we also saw one at 7:04pm on Monday night, another event a little further north and that seems to have been a bit bigger. Our calculations show a magnitude of 2.3,” Schmidt said.

“With energy releases this big there isn’t much else than a blast that could cause it,” he added.

WATCH: Baltic Sea foams with gas from broken Nord Stream pipeline

Schmidt explained that since the releases were “very sudden” and not a “slow collapse”, the events were “in all likelihood some type of blasts.”

The Norwegian Seismic Array (NORSAR) also confirmed it had registered “a smaller explosion” in the early hours of Monday, “followed by a more powerful on Monday evening.”

The Nord Stream 1 and 2 pipelines have been at the centre of geopolitical tensions in recent months as Russia cut gas supplies to Europe in suspected retaliation against Western sanctions following its invasion of Ukraine.

While the pipelines, which are operated by a consortium majority-owned by Russian gas giant Gazprom, are not currently in operation, they both still contain gas which has been leaking out since Monday.

Photos taken by the Danish military on Tuesday showed large masses of bubbles on the surface of the water emanating from the three leaks located in Sweden’s and Denmark’s economic zones, spreading from 200 to 1,000 metres in diameter.

Danish Prime Minister Mette Frederiksen said Copenhagen was not ruling out sabotage of the gas pipelines between Russia and Europe.

READ ALSO: Gas leaks cause bubbling up in Baltic Sea as Danish PM says ‘unlikely due to chance’

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BREAKING

Sweden’s electricity price subsidy now postponed until February

Households and businesses will not receive any compensation for high power prices over the last year until February at the earliest, Swedish government ministers confirmed at a press conference on Wednesday.

Sweden's electricity price subsidy now postponed until February

During the election campaign, the Moderate, Christian Democrat, and Liberal parties made a common election promise to have a system of compensation “in place” by November 1st. 

“If we win the election and Sweden receives a new government, we are are going to make sure that high-cost protection against the current extreme electricity prices for households and businesses will be in place by November 1st,” they wrote. “Household finances will be rescued in good time for Christmas. That is a common election promise.” 

But at a press conference on Wednesday morning, social insurance minister Anna Tenje said that payments would not begin until well into 2023. 

“The payments will begin in February if nothing unexpected happens,” she said. 

For businesses, the wait could be even longer. 

“The first step will be payments to households. The second stage will be payments to businesses, and that question is still being decided,” energy and business minister Ebba Busch said. 

At a press conference, Magdalena Andersson, leader of the opposition Social Democrats accused Sweden’s prime minister of “lying to the Swedish people right in the face”. 

“When it comes to high cost protection for electricity, he was very clear ahead of the election that it would be in place on November 1st,” she said. “He couldn’t explain how, but it was a clear promise to the people of Sweden and that has now been broken. It’s not as if anything has happened to explain why he couldn’t live up to the promise.” 

“Don’t make lofty promises that aren’t trustworthy. That’s what I said during the election campaign.” she added.

The Social Democrats’ energy spokesperson, Fredrik Olovsson, said that the government should give a new instruction to the country’s grid operator Svenska Kraftnät, so that even people in northern Sweden could receive the subsidy. 

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