Three Nord Stream gas pipeline leaks are currently releasing gas into the ocean, causing a massive concentration of methane bubbles to appear on the water’s surface close to Sweden and Denmark. On 27 September, European nations sped up their investigations.
Some Western nations and NATO reinforced the idea that Russia was to blame, saying that the leaks showed “acts of sabotage.” Analysts pointed out that Russia could shut the pipes since neither pipeline was currently supplying gas to Europe.
On 26 September 2022, the Nord Stream 1 and 2 gas pipelines saw significant drops in pressure, a seismograph on the Danish Island of Bornholm, close to the leaks’ location, twice detected spikes, according to the German geological research center GFZ.
A Danish military flight over the leaks brought back astonishing pictures of the ruptures, which showed a kilometer-wide bubble of seething gas on the ocean’s surface.
The roughly 90-meter-deep pipe comprises 1.6 inches of steel coated with an additional 4 inches of concrete. Explosions at three/ Four different places on the same day are essentially unheard of.
The Russian Foreign Ministry accused the US of being responsible for the sabotage. Radek Sikorski, a former defense minister of Poland, echoed US President Biden’s statement that Nord Stream 2 would not be completed if Russia invaded Ukraine.
According to US Secretary of State Blinken, Disrupting the Nord Stream gas pipelines would be “in no one’s interest.” Still, US gas providers are reportedly reaping “record profits,” according to the German energy news site IWR.
The present gas price disparity between the American and European markets is ten times greater. Business Insider claims that American businesses can profit more than $100 million per ship by shipping liquid natural gas to Europe.
Although the leaks in these two gas pipelines had no immediate impact on European energy supplies, they will be a severe blow to some European nations like Germany, which are about to enter a harsh winter. At the same time, these countries are experiencing an energy crisis with volatility in the world’s energy prices and helping to intensify Western hostility toward Russia.
Such an exceptional occurrence might have a domino effect, increase the severe risks associated with the Ukraine issue, and send the struggle between the main powers tumbling into peril.
According to media sources, Josep Borrell, the head of foreign affairs for the EU, stated on 28 September that the leaks from the Nord Stream 1 and 2 were “not a coincidence” and were the result of a purposeful act. The most recent statement was made following the release of a video by the Danish military on 27 September that showed bubbles rising above the pipelines in the Baltic Sea when the two underwater leaks started on 26 September.
Leaks from the Nord Stream pipeline happened at a very delicate moment. It took place on the last day of referendums on “joining Russia” in four Ukrainian regions that are under Russian control.
Given numerous parties’ interests, the incident could remain a mystery forever even if the leaders of Europe approve an investigation into the leaks. The incident will reduce the importance of Russian energy in the European market and aggravate the Russia-Ukraine situation, leaving the already suffering European countries to endure a more unpleasant winter, despite some observers’ assertions that the US should be held responsible.
What can happen next?
Instead of blowing its pipelines, Russia could retain the advantage of managing the energy crisis by simply closing the valve if it wants to stop gas flow to Europe. Technically speaking, it doesn’t seem possible for Russia to sabotage the pipelines in the Baltic Sea. How could Moscow easily blow up the pipelines, which is not advantageous for itself, while NATO members or allies have dominated undersea activities in the Baltic Sea since the end of the Cold War with surveillance devices toward the former Soviet Union and now Russia?
If the US is behind the incident, such overtly interrupting Europe’s energy supply runs the risk of endangering its ties with its allies, such as Germany. Some analysts have suggested that it is probable that the US’s intelligence services and its European command office planned the leaks. Some others also argued that anti-Russian forces or organizations might work together with the US to start a new chorus of antagonism to Russia worldwide.
Bloomberg reported in June that Europe had supplanted Asia as the region’s primary recipient of US liquefied natural gas (LNG) as the energy-scarce continent looks to reduce its reliance on Russian supplies. The US shipped nearly three-quarters of all its LNG to Europe in the first four months of 2022, with daily shipments to the continent more than tripling from last year’s average.
It will be challenging to find a replacement for Russian natural gas on time, making it tough for Europe to reduce its dependency immediately.
German Chancellor Olaf Scholz recently visited Gulf nations, prompting the German government to look for additional natural gas sources. It was also constructing ports at home to import the petroleum via ship. However, such efforts would be improbable to have tangible impacts by this winter.
The incident may destabilize energy prices globally since markets outside may raise prices out of concern that non-market factors like terrorist acts might jeopardize Russia’s energy supplies.