Warning for Shipping After Major Gas Leak From Nord Stream 2 Pipeline

Authorities in Denmark have discovered a leak from the Nord Stream 2 gas pipeline off the coast of the island of Bornholm and have advised vessels to avoid the area. The pressure in the Nord Stream 1 and 2 pipelines both decreased significantly overnight for unidentified causes. Authorities in Germany, which is where both lines’ receiving terminals are located, are looking into the incident as a potential intentional act.

“We can’t fathom a situation that isn’t a targeted attack,” a source familiar with the German government’s worries told Tagesspiegel given that both lines had been cut. The evidence is overwhelming against coincidence.

According to Denmark’s marine authorities, pressure in the Nord Stream 2 pipe dropped from 105 bars to 7 bars overnight. A sizable bubble field was seen close to the Baltic Sea island of Bornholm. The government established a five-nautical-mile safety zone surrounding the leak. A warning is issued that it is “hazardous for marine traffic.”

In order to be inaugurated, Nord Stream 2 was finished last year and loaded with gas. However, it was never put into use since the German government canceled its operating license in February as Russia prepared to attack Ukraine, keeping it indefinitely in limbo. Since then, it has been pressurized but not in use.

The building of the undersea pipeline was fiercely opposed by the United States, Poland, and Ukraine out of concern that it would give the Kremlin a mechanism to ensure that gas deliveries to Germany would continue even if Russia attacked Ukraine, which houses Russia’s terrestrial westbound gas pipelines.

Despite these reservations, the Biden administration decided to let the completion of the project without imposing charges on its developers, as did the German government under former Chancellor Angela Merkel. Approximately 30 days after the final weld, the Russian military started assembling its soldiers for the invasion of Ukraine.

In violation of long-term agreements and disrupting six decades of uninterrupted energy trade, Russian state gas corporation Gazprom has gradually reduced supply to the German market since the invasion began.

Due to purported (and contested) technical issues, Gazprom has completely shut down Nord Stream 1 since early September. In the West, this action was largely seen as revenge for the German support of Ukraine.

Vladimir Putin, the president of Russia, has suggested that gas shipments might resume if Germany simply changes its mind and allows Nord Stream 2 to begin operating. That politically unpopular option may be even less likely than previously as a result of Nord Stream 2’s current gas spill into the Baltic.

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