Nord Stream leak may be the largest methane emissions ever recorded
The Nord Stream breach released between 56,000 to 155,000 tonnes of methane into the air which makes it one of the biggest methane emissions recorded from one point
It is believed that the Nord Stream pipe leak is responsible for possibly the biggest methane emissions ever recorded according to the latest measurements that the pipeline leak.
The Nord Stream 1 and 2 pipeline systems were designed to transport natural gas brought from Russia to Europe under the Baltic Sea. On the 27th of September, massive blasts ripped holes into three pipes, in what leaders of governments across the globe have described as an act of an attempt to sabotage. Natural gas is the most common fuel used in pipelines.
The EU has acknowledged that leaks in two pipelines of gas from Russia into Europe were the result of an act of sabotage but has stopped short of directly accusing Russia.
European Commission head Ursula von der Leyen stated that deliberate disruption could trigger “the “strongest possible response”.
The EU has been accused by the EU of Russia of making use of gas to smear the West due to their support of Ukraine.
However, Kremlin spokesperson Dmitry Peskov dismissed accusations of the sabotage of others being “predictable, stupid and absurd”.
It was reported that US Secretary of State Antony Blinken said he thought leaks will “not have a significant impact on Europe’s energy resilience”. The pipelines are not carrying gas, at present even though both contain gas.
The man named Blinken did not specifically accuse Russia however he said it was against “no one’s interest” if they were caused intentionally.
The Danish Energy Minister, Dan Jorgensen, said the leaks are likely to last up to a week until the gas that is escaping through the pipes is exhausted. A probe has been initiated.
The owners of Nord Stream 2 warned of an increase in pressure in the pipeline in the afternoon of Monday. This caused Danish authorities to advise ships to beware of the area close to the islands of Bornholm.
On Tuesday, the owner of Nord Stream 1 said the undersea lines suffered “unprecedented” damage in one day.
The Nord Stream 1 pipeline is comprised of two branches that are parallel it hasn’t carried any gas since the month of August when Russia shut it down saying that it required maintenance.
It extends for seventy-five miles (1,200km) beneath it. It runs under the Baltic Sea from the Russian coast close to St Petersburg to north-eastern Germany. The twin pipe, Nord Stream 2, was shut down when Russia declared war on Ukraine in February.
Mike Fulwood, a senior researcher at the non-profit Oxford Institute for Energy Studies informed that sabotage was, in fact, the leading source of the leaks.
“To rupture an offshore pipeline is a rare occurrence, so three in 18 hours would be a big coincidence,” he added.
If the sabotage was done by Russia, it was a “bizarre” move, he claimed, since it had already shut the supply off.
The engineer estimated that repairs would take anywhere from three to six months as the damaged sections will need replacing. Similar damages to a different pipeline in the past required nine months to repair.
Dmitry Peskov said he was “extremely concerned” about the leaks, noting that the possibility of an intentional attack is not excluded.
Seismologists have reported underwater explosions prior to the leaks began to emerge. The Danish Defence Command has released footage of the leaks that shows bubbles – the biggest is approximately 1km (0.6 miles) in diameter – that are located near the shore of the Baltic Sea.
“There is no doubt that these were explosions,” claimed Bjorn Lund, the Swedish National Seismology Centre.
Greenpeace expressed concern about the leaks, stating that they might have the exact negative impacts on the environment as 30 million tonnes of carbon dioxide.
However, the German environment ministry claimed that the leaks did not be a major risk in marine wildlife.
Three US officials claimed that the US has not provided a full explanation of what happened following the explosions, which were believed to have caused three separate leaks in two pipelines on Monday.
Russian ships regularly operate in the region according to a Danish military official who stressed that the presence of ships do not necessarily mean that Russia has caused the damage.
We meet them on a regular basis,” this person said. “Russian operations on the Baltic Sea have increased in recent times. They’re frequently trying to test our intelligence – both in the water and from the air.”
However, the reports make it appear that there is a greater suspicion of Russia which has attracted the most interest of European as well as US officials because it is the only participant in the region that is believed to have both the capacity and the motivation to intentionally damage pipelines.
US officials have not made any comments regarding the information they received regarding the ships on Wednesday.
There are two nations involved in the investigation. Denmark, as well as Sweden, are both investigating, however, an investigation into the location is yet to be conducted and information on the cause of the explosions is uncertain. One European official told the Guardian that there is a Danish government-led investigation in progress and that it could take as long as two weeks for the investigation to be properly launched due to the fact that the pressure inside the pipes makes it difficult for investigators to get to the location of the leaks, however, another source who is familiar with the issue said that the investigation could start as early as Sunday.
The prime ministers from the countries of Denmark and Sweden declared in public on Tuesday that the leaks could be caused by deliberate actions that were not random The Swedish security services issued a statement on Wednesday that it could not be denied “that a foreign power is behind it.” US National security advisor Jake Sullivan on Tuesday evening also described the leaks as “apparent sabotage” in a tweet.
But top Western officials have not yet attributed an attack in the past to Russia or any other nation.
The Kremlin has repeatedly denied that it had struck the pipelines. A spokesperson for the Kremlin called the claim “predictably stupid and absurd.”
CNN has asked the Russian Ministry of Defence for clarification on the location of the vessels.
Investigation into Leaks
The Danish government is leading this investigation. They have set up an exclusion zone of 5 nautical miles as well as a one-mile no-fly zone, according to European sources with knowledge of the issue.
In addition to Sullivan, US officials have been much more cautious in comparison to their European counterparts when making conclusions about leaks.
“I believe that many of our friends have decided that it’s an act of sabotage. I’m not at a level where I’m able to say which way to go,” a senior military official said on Wednesday. “The only thing I can say about is that we believe the water is somewhere between 80 to 100 meters deep in the area at which it is located. Apart from that, I’m not aware of anything further.”
But a top US official, as well as a US military official, also declared that Russia is the most likely suspect, assuming the European opinion of deliberate sabotage bears out, as there aren’t any other suspects who have the capability and willingness to execute the plan.
“It’s hard to imagine any other actor in the region with the capabilities and interest to carry out such an operation,” the Danish official from the military said.
Russia has asked for the UN Security Council meeting on the pipeline’s damage this week. This is something a senior US official also said was suspect. In general, the official said, Russia isn’t organized enough to be able to respond so swiftly and suggests that the move was planned ahead of time.
If Russia had deliberately caused the explosions the country would be inflicting harm on its own pipelines. Russian Gazprom is a state-owned corporation. Gazprom is the largest shareholder of Nord Stream 1 and the sole owner of Nord Stream 2.
However, officials who have access to the most recent intelligence suggest that Moscow is likely to think that such a move was worthwhile in the event that it raised the cost of aiding Ukraine in Europe.
US Intelligence officials from western countries think Russian president Vladimir Putin is gambling that when electricity prices rise as winter gets closer, the European public could turn against the Western strategy of separating Russia economically.
By destroying pipelines, Putin might “show what Russia is capable of,” one US official said.
Russia has taken the first steps to alter the flow of energy in ways that led to economic hardship for Russia however, it also caused harm to Europe. Russia cut gas supply to Europe through Nord Stream 1 before suspending all flows in August and blamed Western sanctions for the technical issues. European officials say it was an excuse to cut off the gas supply.
“They’ve already shown they’re perfectly happy to do that,” one of the sources claimed. “They weigh their economic pain against Europe’s.”
The brand-new Nord Stream 2 pipeline was yet to be commercialized. The idea of using it to transport gas was cancelled by Germany just days ahead of Russia’s deployed troops to Ukraine in February.
US, European and Ukrainian officials have been warning for a long time, but they have warned that crucial infrastructure, not just in Ukraine but as well across both the US and Europe may have been targeted by Russia in the course of its war against Ukraine.
The US warned a number of European allies in the summer including Germany in particular, about the possibility that Nord Stream 1 and 2 pipelines could be threatened and could even be attacked according to two people who are familiar with intelligence and warnings.
The warnings were based on US intelligence reports; however, they were vague, people claimed – it was unclear from the information who could be the culprit behind any attack on pipelines, or when they could occur.