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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

Danish consumers urged to keep conserving energy to avoid high costs

Although the price of electricity has recently fallen back from recent recent sky-high levels, it’s important that Danish consumers don’t return their usage habits to normal, energy experts say.

Danish consumers urged to keep conserving energy to avoid high costs

Energy prices in Denmark are currently lower than they were in the late summer and early autumn, but experts say that turning heating up to full blast – and generally scrapping measures to reduce consumption – will still result in costly bills.

While prices were high, many people in Denmark adapted their consumption habits in an effort to preserve stores and avoid high costs.

Public buildings and many businesses meanwhile implemented lower temperatures on thermostats, and power-hungry activities such as outdoor ice rinks or Christmas lighting were cancelled or cut back.

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With the weather now colder, energy prices are currently low.

That is partly because Denmark’s gas reserves that serve as an emergency backup are full, while issues at European power plants that exacerbated the crisis have been largely resolved. 

The cold weather and lower prices may tempt many to return to former habits and turn heating up as usual. But this could still see energy bills eventually hit record levels, experts have warned.

“We will have to think about what we use our electricity and gas for and make savings where we can,” Jim Vilsson, senior economist at state-owned energy company Energinet told broadcaster TV2.

“Otherwise, we could end up in a situation where we again risk being short of energy,” he said.

Data from Nordic energy stock market Nord Pool, reported by TV2, show the unit price of electricity hitting 4.36 kroner per kilowatt hour (not including fees and taxes) in late August.

The price was 0.9 kroner per kilowatt hour as of November 20th.

Gas prices similarly peaked in late August and before falling, but are higher than they were in November 2021.

READ ALSO: At what time of the day is electricity cheapest in Denmark?

“Supply wise we are well stocked at the moment. We have got the European gas strores filled well up and they are actually completely full in Denmark,” Vilsson told TV2.

Gas stocks remained full further into the late autumn than usual, according to raw material analyst Ole Sloth Hansen of Saxo Bank.

“We have only just seen gas stocks be reduced and this was three weeks later than normal. So we have lots of gas, but we’re not home and dry yet,” Hansen told TV2.

Consumers in Denmark have meanwhile reduced their consumption by an average of around 10 percent.

“The market is a little better than it was before. But I’m putting extra emphasis on ‘little’, because it’s based on a situation where we expect a relatively normal or mild winter,” Vilsson said.

Increased consumption could help to push current lower prices back up as well as deplete stocks, he warned.

“We have been able to keep prices down because we have stood together and been good at saving. If we go back to normal, we could be in a situation again where we will lack gas, coal or electricity,” he said.

READ ALSO: How do I check my Danish electricity plan and decide whether to change?

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