Nord Stream 2 pipeline has stopped leaking gas, says spokesman

Published October 2, 2022
This handout picture released on September 27 by the Danish Defence Command shows the gas leak at the Nord Stream 2 gas pipeline as it is seen from the Danish Defence's F-16 rejection response off the Danish Baltic island of Bornholm, south of Dueodde. — AFP/File
This handout picture released on September 27 by the Danish Defence Command shows the gas leak at the Nord Stream 2 gas pipeline as it is seen from the Danish Defence's F-16 rejection response off the Danish Baltic island of Bornholm, south of Dueodde. — AFP/File

BERLIN: 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 said.

“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.

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 on 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 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.

International probe

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 on Saturday.

German Chancellor Olaf Scholz had said 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 North Stream pipelines,” she was quoted as saying.

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

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 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.

Published in Dawn, October 2nd, 2022

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