In Portovaya, Russia, where the Nord Stream 1 Baltic Sea pipeline begins, a kind of beacon has been blazing for weeks. This flame, with a signal effect, is fueled by the gas that Gazprom actually wanted to deliver to Europe.

For the first time, Finnish citizens on the other side of the border became aware of the constantly blazing fire, says gas expert Sindre Knutsson in an interview with “Spiegel”. The Norwegian energy research company Rystad, for which he works, then looked at the Portovaya flame with the help of current satellite images. An essential factor in the investigation was the radiant heat, which was measured at the site and which can reach up to 1600 degrees.

As a result, Rystad found that Gazprom flared gas for the first time on July 11 – the very day when the state-owned company interrupted gas supplies to Europe in favor of alleged maintenance of a Nord Stream 1 turbine. “The radiant heat shot up all of a sudden, such high values ​​had never been measured in the region before,” says Knutsson. In the weeks that followed, the values ​​fluctuated greatly, and in August they rose again noticeably. “Currently, enormous amounts of gas are constantly being flared off. If Portovaya were a regular gas field, it would be in the top five largest flares in the world.”

Gazprom burns around 4.3 million cubic meters of gas per day. That corresponds to about an eighth of the amount that is currently still flowing through Nord Stream 1. The state-owned company could get 13 million euros for it. “It’s probably the most expensive flame in the world,” explains Knutsson. Rystad does not fully understand why Russia nevertheless decides to burn off the gas. However, the energy research company suspects that the reduced deliveries to Europe mean that there is too much gas on site. “And Gazprom has to get rid of this excess somehow,” says Knutsson.

Instead of burning the gas, Russia could alternatively shut down gas production or burn the excess gas directly on site at the Siberian production sites. According to Knutsson, that would be much cheaper than first delivering the gas to Portovaya on the other side of the country and burning it there. However, problems in coordinating the gas flows or technical complications would presumably prevent a simpler solution.

In addition, the gas expert cannot rule out that the flaring of the gas is also a propaganda message. After all, the flame can also be seen well on the European side in Finland. “But it would be a very expensive and ecologically disastrous action,” says Knutsson. Around 9000 tons of carbon dioxide would be emitted every day.

The Duisburg Zoo has filed criminal charges against four activists for “trespassing and animal cruelty”. They jumped into the pool with the dolphins in wetsuits on Sunday during a performance in the dolphinarium.

After the debate about salaries at ARD, the focus is now on Deutschlandfunk, also a public broadcaster and GEZ-financed. An internal list shows that the bosses and ex-bosses are getting a good deal here too.