International unit to probe pipeline blasts: Germany

Germany will form a joint investigation unit with Denmark and Sweden to probe the apparent "sabotage" against the underwater Nord Stream pipelines from Russia, Interior Minister Nancy Faeser said Saturday.

Nord Stream gas leak in the Baltic Sea
One of the Nord Stream gas leaks in the Baltic Sea photographed from Coast Guard aircraft on September 22nd 2022. Germany is policing the North and Baltic Seas after explosions at the pipelines. Photo: Swedish Coast Guard

German Chancellor Olaf Scholz had said Friday that Berlin would “support the joint investigation” of the incident with Denmark and Sweden, in a video call with counterparts from both countries.

Faeser told the weekly Bild am Sonntag newspaper that she had agreed with her fellow interior ministers that the work would be conducted by a “joint investigation team under EU law” with staff from the three countries.

“All indications point to an act of sabotage against the Nord Stream pipelines,” she was quoted as saying.

She added the team would bring in expertise from “the navy, police and intelligence services”.

READ ALSO: Sweden and Denmark say Nord Stream blasts equal to ‘several hundred kilos of TNT’

Authorities are practicising “increased vigilance” to protect Germany’s energy infrastructure but said there were “no concrete threat indications for German sites — as of now”.

Faeser had told the daily Sueddeutsche Zeitung on Friday that German police were patrolling the North and Baltic Seas with “all available forces” following the explosions, in cooperation with neighbouring countries.

The Nord Stream pipelines, where flows have been halted since the end of August, were key arteries for the delivery of natural gas directly from Russia to Germany.

The source of the explosions has remained a mystery, however, with both Moscow and Washington denying responsibility.

Norway, which has become Europe’s biggest supplier of natural gas, said earlier Friday it had accepted military contributions from France, Germany and Britain to secure its oil and gas sector.


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Sweden’s energy usage continues to drop

Sweden's energy usage is still decreasing, if anything at slightly faster rate, according to new preliminary figures from the Energy Authority.

Sweden's energy usage continues to drop

In November energy usage went down by eight procent on average across the country. In October, this figure was 7.6 percent, according to earlier figures from the Swedish National Grid.

As previously, southern Sweden saw the largest drop. In energy zone 4 (the southernmost zone), energy usage went down 12 percent. In energy zone 3 usage went down 10 percent. In the north of the country however, usage increased compared to November last year – going up by one and four percent in energy zones 1 and 2, respectively.

These figures are preliminary, and it’s difficult to say exactly what the drop in usage is caused by, the Energy Authority says.

“It’s fair to assume that the high prices – and also the media attention around them – has contributed to lower usage,” it wrote in a newsletter titled “The Current Situation on the Energy Market”.

The weather has also had an effect. November was warmer this year compared to last year. More electric cars and energy-heavy investments in Norrland, such as the Northvolt battery factory, are likely factors behind the increase in usage in the northernmost energy zone.