Nord Stream Pipelines Suffer Major Failure and Multiple Leaks in Baltic Sea

The largest pipelines connecting Russia and Europe appear to have been destroyed on the same day.

The gas leak at Nord Stream 2 seen from the air near the Danish island of Bornholm.
Source: Danish Defense.

The Nord Stream 1 and 2 pipelines suffered some type of structural damage which has caused them to leak natural gas into the Baltic Sea.

Danish authorities first reported a leak in the Nord Stream 2 pipeline on Monday, 26 September. Sweden’s maritime authority followed up with the confirmation of two other leaks found along the route of the Nord Stream 1 pipeline.

Neither pipeline was transporting commercial volumes of gas but remained pressurized until Monday when the pressure inside both pipelines was reported to have dropped to near zero.

Navigational warnings and exclusion zones have been established around the areas affected by the leaks. Video and photos taken by Denmark’s armed forces show a significant plume above the Nord Stream 2 pipeline that it said measured about 1 km in diameter.

Nord Stream AG, operator of Nord Stream 1, said in a statement to Reuters on Tuesday that “the destruction that occurred on the same day simultaneously on three strings of the offshore gas pipelines of the Nord Stream system is unprecedented.”

“It is not yet possible to estimate the timing of the restoration of the gas transport infrastructure," the Switzerland-based consortium added.

Officials from multiple European countries have raised suspicion of sabotage as the cause of the leaks. Swedish seismologists also reported that multiple seismology stations detected tremors in the Baltic on Monday that may be the result of subsea explosions.

Further fueling speculation over an intentional act is that the locations of the leaks in each pipeline are about 45 miles apart.

Nord Stream 1 was commissioned in 2011 as the biggest pipeline between Russia and Europe with a design capacity of about 5.3 Bcf/D. But flows into the pipeline were reduced over the course of the Russo-Ukrainian war to about 20% of that capacity before being completely halted in August.

Russia's Gazprom said the shutdown of Nord Stream 1 was due to technical issues and problems with sourcing equipment under Western sanctions.

The Nord Stream 2 pipeline was the first major energy project between Russia and Europe to be cancelled in February. Days before Russia’s invasion of Ukraine, Germany nullified the project that was one regulatory approval away from delivering up to 5.3 Bcf/D of Russian gas.

Russia’s state-owned Gazprom feeds the Nord Stream 1 pipeline but has yet to comment on the leaks.

The giant gas producer said earlier this month that it was waiting for repairs to be made at a compressor station by Siemens before it could resume gas flows. Siemens said it is not on contract for maintenance of the components in question.