Sweden, Denmark and Norway block Nord Stream from examining pipeline 

Nord Stream, the company which owns and operates the gas pipeline hit by suspected sabotage last month, has said it cannot examine the pipeline because it has not been given permission by the Swedish, Danish and Norwegian authorities. 

Sweden, Denmark and Norway block Nord Stream from examining pipeline 
A man working at the landfall area of the Nord Stream 2 gas pipeline in Lubmin, northeastern Germany. Photo: Tobias Schwarz/AFP/Sca

The twin Nord Stream 1 and 2 pipelines have been leaking huge quantities of gas since they were damaged in a series of suspected explosions on September 26th. 

In a statement issued on Tuesday, Nord Stream AG, the company which owns and operates the pipelines, said it had so far been unable to carry out its own inspections. 

“As of today, Nord Stream AG is unable to inspect the damaged sections of the gas pipeline due to the lack of earlier requested necessary permits,” the company, which is 51 percent owned by the Russian gas giant Gazprom, wrote. 

“In particular,” it added, “according to the Swedish authorities, a ban on shipping, anchoring, diving, using of underwater vehicles, geophysical mapping, etc. has been introduced to conduct a state investigation around the damage sites in the Baltic Sea.”

“According to information received from the Danish authorities, the processing time of the Nord Stream AG request for the survey may take more than 20 working days.”

The company said it was also being blocked by Norwegian authorities. 

Nord Stream has chartered “an appropriately equipped” survey vessel in Norway, the company wrote, but the vessel has been denied the “green light from Norwegian Ministry of Foreign Affairs” to depart for the Baltic.

Swedish prosecutors on Monday imposed a ban on all marine traffic, submarines and drones on the entire region around the leaks, with some commentators questioning the legality of the ban.

The prosecutors say they have made the decision because police are carrying out “a crime scene investigation”. 

“The investigation continues, we are in an intensive stage. We have good cooperation with several authorities in the matter. I understand the great public interest, but we are at the beginning of a preliminary investigation and I therefore cannot go into details about which investigative measures we are taking,” prosecutor Mats Ljungqvist said in a press release. 

Sweden’s security police Säpo took over the investigation from the police on September 28th, on the grounds that the suspected crime “could at least partly have been directed at Swedish interests”. 

“It cannot be ruled out that a foreign power lies behind this,” it said in a press release. Ljungqvist leads the Swedish prosecution agency’s National Unit for Security Cases.

In a statement on Sunday, Säpo said they were working “intensively” with the Swedish Coast Guard and the Swedish Armed Forces to investigate who might be responsible for the sabotage.

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Denmark refuses Russia access to Nord Stream sabotage probe

Denmark says it will not give Russia permission to participate in investigations into the explosions at the Nord Stream 1 and 2 gas pipelines.

Denmark refuses Russia access to Nord Stream sabotage probe

The Danish position was confirmed by Foreign Minister Lars Løkke Rasmussen at a press briefing on Thursday.

“Denmark, Sweden and Germany all have rule of law and one can have confidence in our investigations,” Rasmussen said.

The three countries have, according to Rasmussen, each initiated investigations into the explosions at the Nord Stream pipelines on September 26th last year.

Russian president Vladimir Putin earlier this week said he wanted Denmark to allow Russia to take part in investigations.

Denmark has the right to control who participates in the investigations into the explosion that took place within the Danish economic zone. Two of the four leakages were in the Danish zone, and two in the Swedish.

Danish authorities were on Tuesday advised by Russian company Gazprom that an object had been detected close to the site of the Nord Stream 2 explosions.

“The owners of the Nord Stream pipeline are able to inspect the pipelines. It is in this context that an object was observed,” Rasmussun said.

“We have told the Russians that we will investigate this thoroughly. And when we have done that, we will announce the results of that investigation,” he said.

Four leaks emerged on the two Nord Stream pipelines in the Baltic Sea off the coast of the Danish island of Bornholm at the end of September, with seismic institutes reporting that they had recorded two underwater explosions prior to the leaks appearing.

While the leaks were in international waters, two of them were in the Danish exclusive economic zone and two in the Swedish one.

Investigations later showed the pipelines were ruptured by underwater explosives, but it remains uncertain who was behind the explosions.

The incident took place seven months after Russian forces invaded Ukraine.

Last week, Germany’s Die Zeit newspaper reported that German investigators suspect that the yacht Andromeda, which was owned by a Ukrainian, was used to plant the explosives on the pipeline. 

READ ALSO: Six months on, what do we know about the Nord Stream blasts?