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NORD STREAM

Swedish coastguard says one of the Nord Stream leaks ‘diminished’

Sweden's coastguard said Friday that one of the four leaks on the Nord Stream pipelines in the Baltic Sea had diminished in size, as environmental experts warned of the climate impact.

Swedish coastguard says one of the Nord Stream leaks 'diminished'
File photo showing the Nord Stream 1 facility at Lubmin, Germany. Nord Stream's operator said Thursday it was unaSweden's coastguard said Friday that one of the four leaks on the Nord Stream pipelines in the Baltic Sea had diminished in size. File photo: Odd ANDERSEN / AFP

The leak, which is located above Nord Stream 2, “has diminished, but is still ongoing,” the Swedish Coast Guard said in a statement Friday morning.

All the leaks, which several countries say were caused by suspected sabotage as underwater explosions were recorded on Monday, were in the Baltic Sea off the Danish island of Bornholm.

Two of the leaks are located in the Swedish exclusive economic zone, and the two others in the Danish one.

The other leak on the Swedish side, which is larger and located above Nord Stream 1, showed no signs of weakening, according to the coast guard.

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Asked by AFP about the development of the leaks on the Danish side, the Danish police declined to comment.

Copenhagen on Wednesday estimated that more than half of the gas in the two pipelines — which were not in operation but filled with gas — had escaped and the pipes were expected to be empty by Sunday.

According to a simulation released Friday by the Norwegian research institute NILU, the methane released has been moving with the wind over several Swedish and Norwegian regions since Monday, even reaching the United Kingdom.

According to its estimates, nearly 80,000 tonnes of methane have already escaped from the damaged pipes.

The methane releases are not dangerous for the health of local residents, but authorities and environmental groups have raised concerns about their climate impact.

The Nord Stream 1 and 2 pipelines, which connect Russia to Germany, have been at the centre of geopolitical tensions as Russia cut gas supplies to Europe in suspected retaliation against Western sanctions following Moscow’s invasion of Ukraine.

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NORD STREAM

Swedish prosecutor confirms Nord Stream pipeline sabotage

Swedish officials confirmed Friday that the September blasts which destroyed sections of the Nord Stream pipelines carrying gas from Russia to Germany under the Baltic Sea were acts of sabotage.

Swedish prosecutor confirms Nord Stream pipeline sabotage

“The analyses conducted found traces of explosives on several foreign objects” found at the sites of the blasts, prosecutor Mats Ljungqvist, who is leading the preliminary investigation, said in a statement.

Ljungqvist added that technical analyses were continuing in order to “draw more reliable conclusions regarding the incident.”

Sweden’s Prosecution Authority said that the “continued investigation will show if anyone can be formally suspected of a crime.”

The four underwater explosions at the Nord Stream gas pipelines carrying natural gas from Russia to Germany under the Baltic Sea in September this year were caused by a force corresponding to hundreds of kilograms of explosives, a Danish-Swedish report has previously concluded.

The Nord Stream 1 and 2 pipelines have been at the centre of geopolitical tensions as Russia cut gas supplies to Europe in suspected retaliation against Western sanctions following Moscow’s invasion of Ukraine.

Four large gas leaks were discovered on Nord Stream’s two pipelines off the Danish island of Bornholm at the end of September, with seismic institutes recording two underwater explosions just prior.

Investigators had already said preliminary inspections had reinforced suspicions of sabotage.

Russia and Western countries, particularly the United States, have traded bitter barbs over who is responsible for the blasts.

“The analyses conducted found traces of explosives on several foreign objects” at the sites of the blasts, prosecutor Mats Ljungqvist, who is leading the preliminary investigation, said in a statement on Friday.

Ljungqvist added technical analyses were continuing in order to “draw more reliable conclusions regarding the incident”.

Sweden’s prosecution authority said the “continued investigation will show if anyone can be formally suspected of a crime”.

The Swedish Security Service (SÄPO) — which is conducting the investigation under the prosecutors’ leadership — confirmed the findings in a separate statement but both authorities declined to comment further.

The closely watched investigation has also been supported by Sweden’s coast guard, the Swedish armed forces and the police.

Trading blame

While the leaks were in international waters, two of them were in the Danish exclusive economic zone and two in Sweden’s.

At the end of October, Nord Stream sent a Russian-flagged civilian vessel to inspect the damage in the Swedish zone.

The same week the prosecution authority announced it was conducting a second probe of the damage to complement the first done in early October.

In early November, the operator said roughly 250 metres (820 feet) of the Nord Stream 1 pipeline had been destroyed and that craters with a depth of three to five metres had been found on the seabed.

Although the pipelines were not in operation when the leaks occurred, they both still contained gas which spewed up through the water and into the atmosphere.

Moscow has accused Western countries of being behind the explosions of the pipelines, but has not provided any firm proof.

In early November, the Kremlin accused Britain of “directing and coordinating” the explosions.

The accusation was rejected as “distractions which are part of the Russian playbook” by a spokesman for British Prime Minister Rishi Sunak. Ukraine and some Western countries have meanwhile pointed the finger at Russia.

In mid-October, Russia said it was ready to resume deliveries of gas through the parts of the pipeline not affected by the leaks, with President Vladimir Putin saying “the ball was in the EU’s court”.

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