At the end of last month, an area of the Baltic Sea was turned into a giant jacuzzi. Unexpected damage to the Nord Stream gas pipelines had caused gas to leak out, and western countries were quick to point the blame…
Nord Stream 1 and Nord Stream 2 are parallel pipes that run from Russia to Lubmim in Germany. Last year, Nord Stream 1 transported around 59.2b cubic metres of gas from Russia to Europe: the loss of which has contributed to Europe’s energy crisis. On 26th September, a series of explosions were detected in both pipes, with gas leaking to the surface in international waters, predominantly between the coast of Sweden and the Danish island of Bornholm. Denmark’s prime minister, Mette Frederiksen, blamed Russian sabotage, while her Swedish counterpart, then prime minister Magadalena Andersson, also said sabotage was likely. Russia’s president, meanwhile, called the leaks “an unprecedented act of international terrorism”. On Saturday, he accused Britian’s navy of exploding the pipeline, a claim denied by the British government and its allies. Previously, Russia had suggested the United States was involved in the blasts.
On 2nd October, a joint investigation was launched by Denmark, Sweden and Germany. Meanwhile, the pipe’s operator said it was impossible to say when damage could be repaired or, indeed, whether that would ever be possible. It has led to a growing sense that this will spell the end to a project mired in controversy from the start. Former US president Donald Trump had warned opening Nord Stream 2 (which, in fact, never entered service) would risk Europe becoming “hostage” to Russian demands. Then, in a conference with Germany’s chancellor just days before Russia invaded Ukraine, President Biden said the United States would “bring an end” to the project if Russian troops crossed the border. After the leaks, though European gas prices jumped 12 per cent, environmental damage in the immediate vicinity was relatively low. Nevertheless, scientists have pointed to long term damage from methane that escaped in the week or so before pressure was relieved. It’s an impact still yet to fully pan out, and a conclusion to the leak’s cause is yet to be determined.
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