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Denmark warns ships to shun Nord Stream 2

By JONATHAN POWELL in London | China Daily Global | Updated: 2022-09-28 09:09

Gas leak at Nord Stream 2 as seen from the Danish F-16 interceptor on Bornholm, Denmark Sept 27, 2022. [Photo/Agencies]

Danish authorities have warned ships against sailing within 5 nautical miles (9.25 kilometers) of the island of Bornholm after a suspected gas leak from the newly built but unused Nord Stream 2 pipeline.

Denmark's maritime traffic agency said the leak was dangerous and warned ships and low-flying aircraft to avoid an area to the southeast of the island and 80.4 kilometers from the coast of Poland, reported The Times.

There was a "large bubble field near Bornholm", Nord Stream spokesman Ulrich Lissek said late on Monday, adding that pressure in the pipeline had abruptly dropped from 105 bars to 7.

The pipeline, which was financed by Gazprom, the Russian state gas conglomerate, and five European energy companies, was designed to double the flow of Russian gas directly to Germany.

It was filled with gas in preparation for its first deliveries at the start of this year, before the project was put on hold because of the outbreak of conflict between Russia and Ukraine.

The pipeline project cost $9.7 billion and was completed toward the end of last year. It had been filled with 300 million cubic meters of gas but never entered service, according to the Nord Stream spokesperson.

The undersea gas link runs 1,200 kilometers through Russian, Finnish, Swedish, Danish and German territorial waters.

The Times noted that the segment of the pipeline near Bornholm was one of the last to be built following objections from environmentalists. The German newspaper Die Welt speculated that the pipeline may have been "destroyed" in a deliberate act of sabotage, though it reported no evidence.

German government officials have been working with Danish law authorities to find out what caused pressure in the pipeline to plunge rapidly, reported the Euractiv website.

The Politico website reported that gas leaks are highly flammable and have a potent global warming effect. "As soon as the gaseous methane rises above the sea surface into the atmosphere, it contributes massively to the greenhouse effect," said Sascha Mueller-Kraenner, federal director of NGO Environmental Action Germany.

"The significant drop in pressure that has already occurred in the Nord Stream 2 pipeline gives reason to fear that this is a major accident and that significant quantities of the dangerous greenhouse gas methane have already leaked into the Baltic Sea," added Mueller-Kraenner.

Europe has resisted Russian calls to allow the Nord Stream 2 pipeline to operate and some countries accuse Moscow of using energy as a weapon. Russia denies this and blames the West for gas shortages.

Germany's DW news service noted that Kremlin representatives have previously suggested that the Nord Stream 2 pipeline should be allowed to go into operation. It was "technically possible" to continue deliveries, Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov said last month. Russian President Vladimir Putin this month chided the West for keeping Nord Stream 2 shut.

The original Nord Stream pipeline, which was completed in 2011 and follows a similar route in the Baltic Sea, pumped gas to Germany from Russia until it was shut down three weeks ago after months of restricted supply.

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