The leaks from the Nord Stream 1 and 2 gas pipelines in the Baltic Sea were allegedly caused by “at least two explosions” with “hundreds of kilos” of explosives. This is the theory put forward to the United Nations Security Council by the governments of Denmark and Sweden, in whose exclusive economic zones, the sea areas where they exercise their authority, the losses have occurred. It is not yet known how the explosions were caused, but some hypotheses have been put forward. However, both the European Union and NATO are convinced that sabotage was involved, and Russia itself, considered likely responsible by Western governments, has said it believes the casualties are the result of a deliberate attack .
Yesterday 🇸🇪 and 🇩🇰 shared a letter with him @A Security Council members share known facts about the Nord Stream explosions ahead of today’s meeting. It is important that the discussion remains fact-based. @JeppeKofod pic.twitter.com/eiJXRnlEin
– Ann Linde (@AnnLinde) 09/30/2022
The two blasts were spotted by seismographs on Monday: the first damaged the Nord Stream 2, from which the gas leak stopped on Saturday, the second also the Nord Stream 1, whose leaks are expected to end today, according to forecasts by the company that manages the pipeline. When the leaks started, the pipelines were not operational but were still full of natural gas, and now they are unusable due to the explosions.
This is the main argument of those who doubt Russia’s responsibility since the pipelines are owned by the Russian state-owned energy company Gazprom. The reasons why Russian President Vladimir Putin is said to have sabotaged his own gas pipelines are elusive, but Western governments say they still exist: the operation could actually help create a climate of further insecurity over gas supplies that the They had fallen slightly in the past few weeks.
According to intelligence sources at German magazine Spiegel, the blasts ruptured the pipes in four places and extracted 500 kilograms of TNT: it’s as if the pipelines had been bombed by a military plane. Each pipeline consists of a 4 cm thick steel tube wrapped in 11 cm of concrete; a 12 meter section weighs about 24 tons.
The sections of the affected pipelines lie at depths of between 70 and 90 meters, three of which are approximately 15 kilometers from a busy trade route. The fourth hit point on the Nord Stream 2 gas pipeline is 80 kilometers further south in a low-traffic area.
Several conjectures have been made as to how the explosives would have gotten there. It could have been submarines, submarine drones, or even divers if the sabotage was carried out with underwater mines, which can still be activated months or years after they were placed at the blast site. Or different types of bombs could have been used, launched from military submarines or even drones.
It has been suggested that robots were used to take care of maintenance work along the pipelines: if proven, it would be easier to prove alleged Russian responsibility. To search for evidence, Western intelligence agencies are attempting to uncover the last known locations of Russian submarine robots that may have planted explosives, some belonging to Gazprom.
Russian President Vladimir Putin accused the United States and NATO of blowing up gas pipelines to escalate international tensions over the war in Ukraine. He did so in his threatening speech on Friday, in which he announced the annexation of Ukraine’s four regions of Donetsk, Luhansk, Zaporizhia and Kherson and called the West an “enemy.”
Perhaps it’s no coincidence that the sabotage of the Nord Stream gas pipelines happened the day before the inauguration of the Baltic Pipe, the new pipeline connecting Poland with Norway and which for years has been at the heart of Poland’s plan to reduce its energy dependence on Russia . It is the first major gas pipeline connecting a Central European country with Northern Europe. Gaz-System, the Polish company that manages it, said the stretch of sea covered by the pipeline is “continuously monitored by specialized services,” without giving further details.
The Nord Stream sabotage has drawn attention to the vulnerabilities of underwater infrastructure, not only from those that carry energy sources, but also from those that support communications around the world: Internet cables. There are so many that it is impossible to monitor them all.
As for the environmental impact of the spills, it may have been the largest single spill of methane in the atmosphere, according to the United Nations Environment Program (UNEP). Methane, the main component of natural gas, is a greenhouse gas, one of the gases whose increasing presence in the air is causing climate change. It stays in the atmosphere for only 12 years, as opposed to the 500+ of carbon dioxide, but if we look at a 100-year period, which is typically used by scientists to make comparisons, its global warming potential, that’s how much it contributes to the greenhouse effect compared to CO2, is 25 times higher.
Of course, if we look at the total methane emissions caused by human activities in the world in one year, those caused by the leaks of the Nord Stream gas pipelines are a small amount, but they are still significant for a single source and for Therefore speaks one also of a “climate catastrophe”.