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NORD STREAM

Nord Stream 2 pipeline has stopped leaking gas under Baltic Sea: spokesman

The Nord Stream 2 pipeline is no longer leaking under the Baltic Sea because an equilibrium has been reached between the gas and water pressure, a spokesman told AFP.

nord stream 1 gas terminal
This file photo from 2011 shows a view of the Nord Stream 1 gas pipeline terminal. Gas leaks identified on the twin Nord Stream 2 pipeline have now stopped. Photo: John MACDOUGALL / AFP

“The water pressure has more or less closed the pipeline so that the gas which is inside can’t go out,” Nord Stream 2 spokesman Ulrich Lissek said.

“The conclusion is that there is still gas in the pipeline,” he added.

Asked how much gas was believed to be in the pipeline, Lissek said: “That is the one-million-dollar question.”

Information on the status of the Nord Stream 1 pipeline leak, which was significantly larger, was not immediately available.

The Nord Stream 1 and 2 pipelines, which connect Russia to Germany, have been at the centre of geopolitical tensions as Russia cut gas supplies to Europe in suspected retaliation against Western sanctions following Moscow’s
invasion of Ukraine.

While the pipelines are not currently in operation, they both still contained gas before they fell victim to apparent sabotage, producing four leaks.

Nord stream leak site

One of the Nord Stream leak sites photographed by the Swedish Coast Guard. A Danish-Swedish report said on Friday that the leaks were caused by blasts equal to “several hundred kilos of TNT”. Photo: Swedish Coast Guard.
Gas nearly exhausted

A Danish-Swedish report released on Friday concluded the leaks were caused by underwater explosions corresponding to hundreds of kilogrammes of explosives.

“All available information indicates that those explosions are the result of a deliberate act,” the countries said.

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

All the leaks, which were discovered on Monday, are in the Baltic Sea off the Danish island of Bornholm.

Two of the leaks are located in the Swedish exclusive economic zone, and the two others in the Danish one.

Lissek said Nord Stream 2 had informed the Danish energy regulator earlier Saturday that the pipeline had stopped leaking gas.

Danish authorities had said the leaks would continue until the gas in the pipelines is exhausted, which is expected to occur on Sunday.

The Swedish coastguard said late Friday that the leaks on Nord Stream 2 showed signs of weakening due to the exhaustion of the gas contained in the pipes.

The diameter of the sea surface “boiling” caused by the leak in the Swedish exclusive economic zone was now only 20 metres (66 feet) wide, 10 times smaller than at the start.

The leak on Nord Stream 1 had also started to weaken on Friday, with surface diameter down to 600 metres in diameter, down from between 900 and 1,000 metres on Monday.

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NORD STREAM

Swedish prosecutor confirms Nord Stream pipeline sabotage

Swedish officials confirmed Friday that the September blasts which destroyed sections of the Nord Stream pipelines carrying gas from Russia to Germany under the Baltic Sea were acts of sabotage.

Swedish prosecutor confirms Nord Stream pipeline sabotage

“The analyses conducted found traces of explosives on several foreign objects” found at the sites of the blasts, prosecutor Mats Ljungqvist, who is leading the preliminary investigation, said in a statement.

Ljungqvist added that technical analyses were continuing in order to “draw more reliable conclusions regarding the incident.”

Sweden’s Prosecution Authority said that the “continued investigation will show if anyone can be formally suspected of a crime.”

The four underwater explosions at the Nord Stream gas pipelines carrying natural gas from Russia to Germany under the Baltic Sea in September this year were caused by a force corresponding to hundreds of kilograms of explosives, a Danish-Swedish report has previously concluded.

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

Four large gas leaks were discovered on Nord Stream’s two pipelines off the Danish island of Bornholm at the end of September, with seismic institutes recording two underwater explosions just prior.

Investigators had already said preliminary inspections had reinforced suspicions of sabotage.

Russia and Western countries, particularly the United States, have traded bitter barbs over who is responsible for the blasts.

“The analyses conducted found traces of explosives on several foreign objects” at the sites of the blasts, prosecutor Mats Ljungqvist, who is leading the preliminary investigation, said in a statement on Friday.

Ljungqvist added technical analyses were continuing in order to “draw more reliable conclusions regarding the incident”.

Sweden’s prosecution authority said the “continued investigation will show if anyone can be formally suspected of a crime”.

The Swedish Security Service (SÄPO) — which is conducting the investigation under the prosecutors’ leadership — confirmed the findings in a separate statement but both authorities declined to comment further.

The closely watched investigation has also been supported by Sweden’s coast guard, the Swedish armed forces and the police.

Trading blame

While the leaks were in international waters, two of them were in the Danish exclusive economic zone and two in Sweden’s.

At the end of October, Nord Stream sent a Russian-flagged civilian vessel to inspect the damage in the Swedish zone.

The same week the prosecution authority announced it was conducting a second probe of the damage to complement the first done in early October.

In early November, the operator said roughly 250 metres (820 feet) of the Nord Stream 1 pipeline had been destroyed and that craters with a depth of three to five metres had been found on the seabed.

Although the pipelines were not in operation when the leaks occurred, they both still contained gas which spewed up through the water and into the atmosphere.

Moscow has accused Western countries of being behind the explosions of the pipelines, but has not provided any firm proof.

In early November, the Kremlin accused Britain of “directing and coordinating” the explosions.

The accusation was rejected as “distractions which are part of the Russian playbook” by a spokesman for British Prime Minister Rishi Sunak. Ukraine and some Western countries have meanwhile pointed the finger at Russia.

In mid-October, Russia said it was ready to resume deliveries of gas through the parts of the pipeline not affected by the leaks, with President Vladimir Putin saying “the ball was in the EU’s court”.

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