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NORD STREAM

International unit to probe pipeline blasts: Germany

Germany will form a joint investigation unit with Denmark and Sweden to probe the apparent "sabotage" against the underwater Nord Stream pipelines from Russia, Interior Minister Nancy Faeser said Saturday.

Nord Stream gas leak in the Baltic Sea
One of the Nord Stream gas leaks in the Baltic Sea photographed from Coast Guard aircraft on September 22nd 2022. Germany is policing the North and Baltic Seas after explosions at the pipelines. Photo: Swedish Coast Guard

German Chancellor Olaf Scholz had said Friday that Berlin would “support the joint investigation” of the incident with Denmark and Sweden, in a video call with counterparts from both countries.

Faeser told the weekly Bild am Sonntag newspaper that she had agreed with her fellow interior ministers that the work would be conducted by a “joint investigation team under EU law” with staff from the three countries.

“All indications point to an act of sabotage against the Nord Stream pipelines,” she was quoted as saying.

She added the team would bring in expertise from “the navy, police and intelligence services”.

READ ALSO: Sweden and Denmark say Nord Stream blasts equal to ‘several hundred kilos of TNT’

Authorities are practicising “increased vigilance” to protect Germany’s energy infrastructure but said there were “no concrete threat indications for German sites — as of now”.

Faeser had told the daily Sueddeutsche Zeitung on Friday that German police were patrolling the North and Baltic Seas with “all available forces” following the explosions, in cooperation with neighbouring countries.

The Nord Stream pipelines, where flows have been halted since the end of August, were key arteries for the delivery of natural gas directly from Russia to Germany.

The source of the explosions has remained a mystery, however, with both Moscow and Washington denying responsibility.

Norway, which has become Europe’s biggest supplier of natural gas, said earlier Friday it had accepted military contributions from France, Germany and Britain to secure its oil and gas sector.

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ENERGY

Why the energy crisis isn’t over yet in Denmark

Denmark has cut the majority of its consumption of Russian gas but it is too early to disregard all energy saving measures, experts advise.

Why the energy crisis isn’t over yet in Denmark

Gas stocks in Denmark remain high despite the winter having reached the halfway mark, but it would not be prudent to drop good energy saving habits, broadcaster DR writes.

Before the Russian invasion of Ukraine, 40 percent of the natural gas used by Europe came from Russia. That has now been reduced to around 8-10 percent, DR reports.

This means that the EU has moved towards its target of becoming independent of Russian gas, a senior consultant in the Danish energy sector told the broadcaster.

“We have put plans into action and with the amount of gas we are saving now, we are almost at the point of being able to go without Russian gas,” Kristian Rune Poulsen of Green Power Denmark, the interest organisation for the energy sector, said.

The reason for this is that imports of liquid gas from North America and the Middle East have been increased, but also because consumers and businesses across Europe have managed to reduce consumption.

“In Denmark, we used 37 percent less gas in 2022 compared with 2021. How much of this is actual savings and how much is from switching to other fuels, we don’t yet know for sure,” Poulsen said.

Europe currently has good gas stocks and prices are expected to be stable for the rest of the winter.

READ ALSO: Low European gas prices ‘will benefit’ energy consumers in Denmark

But it’s too early to call off the energy crisis and turn up thermostats without a care, according to a number of experts who spoke to DR.

“There’s no doubt that it’s a huge success that we’ve succeeded in saving 20-25 percent on gas and significantly increased imports of liquid gas,” Brian Vad Mathiesen, energy researcher at Aalborg University, said to DR.

“But we still get Russian gas through Turkey and Ukraine, and countries like Hungary and Romania are still dependent on Russian gas,” he said.

Moscow could therefore still use gas as leverage to drive a wedge between European countries, he stated.

A senior researcher in international relations also said that measures to conserve gas should continue.

“We’ve been good at cutting back. But if we stop saving now, we’ll run into problems next year,” Trine Villumsen Berling of the Danish Institute for International Studies told DR.

Much of the gas currently stored was originally supplied by Russia, she noted. Power plants still need to use gas to produce energy when weather conditions reduce wind output, she also said.

“We need Danes to still have those good habits. We must remain aware of how we use energy and how much we turn on the heating for quite a while yet,” she said.

“We must remember that in future we won’t get much gas from Russia and that we are only in this healthy situation because we have been good at conserving,” added Poulsen of Green Power Denmark.

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