Most recently, no gas flowed from Russia to Germany through the two Baltic Sea gas pipelines Nord Stream 1 and 2. The lines still cause concern. Apparently they are badly damaged.

On the night of Monday, a sharp drop in pressure was initially detected in one of the two tubes of the Nord Stream 2 pipeline. On Monday evening, the operator of Nord Stream 1 also reported a drop in pressure – in this case for both tubes. On Tuesday, the Danish energy authority announced that there were three gas leaks near the island of Bornholm – two leaks on Nord Stream 1 northeast of the Baltic Sea island and one on Nord Stream 2 southeast of the island.

In addition, measuring stations on Swedish and Danish territory recorded powerful underwater explosions on Monday. “There is no doubt that these are blasts,” said Björn Lund, professor of seismology at Sweden’s national seismic network, speaking to Swedish broadcaster SVT. “You can see very clearly how the waves are bouncing from the bottom of the sea to the surface.”

The cause has not yet been clarified, the German press agency learned from security circles on Tuesday morning. However, there is a lot to be said for sabotage. If it were an attack, given the technical complexity, only a state actor would actually come into question. The “Tagesspiegel” had previously reported on this.

According to information from the “Spiegel”, the American secret service CIA had already warned the federal government of possible attacks on the gas pipelines in the summer. The news magazine relies on people familiar with the case.

Danish Defense Minister Morten Bødskov said in Brussels that with so much gas in the lines it could take a week or two for the area to calm down enough to investigate the leaks, some 80 meters below the surface. He emphasized that the incidents took place in international waters and that the infrastructure was not critical for his country.

As early as Tuesday, Poland, Sweden, Denmark and Russia considered an attack on the European gas infrastructure to be the cause of the unprecedented damage to both pipelines. From the point of view of German security circles, there was much to be said for sabotage. If it was an attack, only a state actor would come into question given the effort, it said. Although gas is currently not being delivered through any of the pipelines, the gas price has risen due to the uncertainty.

“We do not yet know the details of what happened there, but we can clearly see that there was an act of sabotage,” said Polish Prime Minister Mateusz Morawieck on Tuesday in Goleniow near Szczecin, Poland, where he attended the opening of the Baltic Pipe gas pipeline This act of sabotage is “probably the next level of escalation that we are dealing with in Ukraine”.

There is still no information about who is behind it, said Danish Prime Minister Mette Frederiksen. However, the authorities came to the unequivocal assessment that these were intentional acts and not an accident

EU Commission President Ursula von der Leyen spoke to Frederiksen about the “sabotage action”, von der Leyen tweeted late Tuesday evening. “It is of the utmost importance to investigate the incidents now and get full clarity on what is happening and why. Any intentional disruption of active European energy infrastructure is unacceptable and will result in the strongest possible response.”

According to a spokesman, the government in Moscow did not want to rule out any variant. The operator of Nord Stream 2 was skeptical: the lines had been laid in such a way that it was highly unlikely that several lines would be damaged at the same time, for example by a single ship accident.

The CDU defense expert Roderich Kiesewetter meanwhile assumes that the leaks are due to an act of sabotage by Russia. From a security policy perspective, such an act of sabotage serves as a deterrent and a threat. “It is therefore likely that Russia is trying in this way to stir up uncertainty among the European population on the one hand and, on the other hand, to point out once again at state level the possible threat of an attack on critical infrastructure.”

Russia has already shown in the past that the pipelines are being used as a tool and energy as a weapon against Germany, said the CDU politician. “Therefore, such an act of sabotage would also fit in with Russia’s hybrid approach, which is characterized by state terrorism.”

According to Nord Stream 2 spokesman Ulrich Lissek, the lines are laid in such a way that it is highly unlikely that several pipes will be damaged at the same time, for example by a single ship accident. When asked if he was aware of similar incidents involving offshore pipelines, he said: “I’ve never heard of them.”

In an interview with the German Press Agency, an expert for underwater robots also referred to the extremely high safety standards and the very robust construction of the lines. From his point of view, only deliberate manipulation is possible.

Nobody has seen the leaks yet. But they can already be guessed at: The Danish military published the first recordings of a huge amount of bubbles on the water surface on Tuesday. The head of the Danish energy authority, Kristoffer Böttzauw, was quoted as saying by the newspaper “Berlingske” on Tuesday that there is “a really, really large amount of gas” flowing out of the leak at Nord Stream 2. This means that the water is extremely turbulent.

In view of this amount of gas, it cannot be a small crack in the pipeline. “It’s a really big hole,” said Böttzauw accordingly. The areas in which the water surface is turbulent are therefore hundreds of meters in diameter.

At least directly above the gas leaks there is danger for shipping. According to the Danish Energy Agency, ships may lose buoyancy when entering the area. There is also a risk of ignition. There is no danger outside the zone, not even for the residents of Bornholm and the small neighboring island of Christiansø. The Danish shipping authority has set up appropriate restricted zones for shipping traffic.

In Germany, the Stralsund Mining Authority, which is responsible for the local pipeline sections, sees at least no immediate danger of the situation deteriorating: “From a technical point of view – according to the current status – it is unlikely that the damage will continue,” the authority said on Tuesday. The pressure in the lines was set to a low level in accordance with the water depth.

The Bund für Umwelt und Naturschutz (BUND) estimates the possible short-term effects of the leaks on the Nord Stream 1 and 2 gas pipelines on the environment as locally limited. “However, there is a risk for the animals of suffocation. This particularly affects the animals that cannot escape quickly,” said Nadja Ziebarth, head of the BUND marine protection office, on Tuesday. Like the German Environmental Aid (DUH), the BUND also sees escaping methane as a climate hazard.

Since one of the leaks is in Swedish territorial waters, crisis teams were convened in both Sweden and Denmark on Tuesday. When the leaks became known, the crisis management team, in which several ministries and authorities were involved, was called together, Swedish Foreign Minister Ann Linde told the Aftonbladet newspaper on Tuesday. The Danish Foreign Minister Jeppe Kofod contacted them, so virtual meetings were planned for the evening.

The operator of the Nord Stream 1 route does not want to remain idle either. Investigations are currently being carried out, said a spokesman for Nord Stream AG, which is responsible for Nord Stream 1. According to an expert on underwater robots, he assumes that the authorities will use diving robots to get an idea of ​​the situation.

no Nord Stream 2 had not yet been put into operation. Russia stopped transporting gas through Nord Stream 1 on the morning of August 31. Since then, Germany has not received any natural gas from Russia. Nevertheless, the gas storage facilities in Germany can continue to be filled.

Germany currently receives natural gas via pipelines from Norway, the Netherlands and Belgium. Daily totals have been increasing steadily since July 19th. According to the Federal Network Agency, German storage facilities are now 91.3 percent full. A further relief of the gas supply situation is expected for the turn of the year: through the planned commissioning of three terminals on the North Sea and Baltic Sea coasts for the landing of liquefied natural gas (LNG).

However, the price of European natural gas rose on Tuesday. The TTF futures contract for Dutch natural gas rose to around EUR 194 per megawatt hour. Most recently it was around 188 euros, which was around 8 percent more than the day before.

Although the pipeline was never used to transport natural gas due to a lack of certification, both tubes were filled with gas after completion, as this is necessary for the intended operation. According to the operator, this process took weeks.

Surf tips:

The Swedish Coast Guard announced on Thursday morning that a fourth leak in the Nord Stream pipelines had been discovered. The first three were found on Monday, and international observers suspect sabotage.

After the leaks on Nord Stream 1 and 2 became known, a possible act of sabotage as the cause became the focus of political discussions. The British “Times” reports from defense circles of a “deliberate and planned” detonation. Military experts are now speculating about the use of underwater drones and battle tanks.