The Swedish Coast Guard has detected a fourth gas leak in one of the Nord Stream pipelines that cross under the Baltic Sea carrying natural gas from Russia to Europe. According to the Swedish press, the leak was found on Nord Stream 2, and is close to another large stain almost a kilometer in diameter made by gas flowing out of Nord Stream 1 and detected earlier this week.
Neither of the two pipelines was pumping gas at the time of the incidents, which the international community has described as acts of “sabotage.” Nord Stream 1, which had been in operation since 2011, stopped supplying gas to Europe in early September in retaliation for European Union sanctions following the Russian invasion of Ukraine. And Nord Stream 2, which runs parallel to the latter along the seabed between the Russian and German coasts, never got off the ground. The German government halted its certification days before the war began.
The pipelines were, however, filled with gas maintained at a constant pressure. At least two explosions were registered by seismographs near the area before the first leaks were detected. The first leak was found on Monday, then two more on Tuesday. The fourth one was reported on Thursday, although a spokesman for the Swedish Coast Guard told the newspaper Svenska Dagbladet that it was discovered earlier in the week.
The leaks are taking place in the territorial waters of Sweden and Denmark, and both countries believe they are deliberate attacks. The European Union and NATO are of the same opinion, although neither has yet pointed to a specific culprit. Ukraine and Poland have publicly directed their suspicions towards Russia. The Kremlin has dismissed these accusations as “stupid” and “predictable.”
In June, while the leaders of Germany, France and Italy toured the devastated areas of Ukraine and showed their support for Kyiv, Russia’s state-owned energy giant Gazprom announced new gas cuts. The shipment of Russian gas outside the post-Soviet space sank in the first half of the year by 28.9% compared to the same period last year, while its price has exceeded historical barriers.