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NORD STREAM

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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ENERGY

Danish Energy Agency advises homes with gas heating to conserve

The Danish Energy Agency (Energistyrelsen) has issued guidelines to households heated by individual gas heaters in a bid to help them avoid very high bills.

Danish Energy Agency advises homes with gas heating to conserve

Around 240,000 households in Denmark will receive advice from the agency by physical or digital post, the agency said in a statement on Friday.

Gas prices in Denmark are currently rising as temperatures drop and energy production from wind turbines falls due to weather conditions.

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“The Danish Energy Agency views it as an important task to help people like those with individual gas heaters [Danish: gasfyr] through good advice about how they best can reduce their heating consumption and take the worst off their gas bill,” head of office Vincent Rudnicki said in the statement.

The information letters are part of a national energy saving campaign which seeks to cut energy consumption during a period when prices can go through large variations.

When gas prices reached their 2022 peak in August, one megawatt hour of gas cost over 300 euros according to the Dutch exchange TTF.

At the beginning of December, the price has increased to 131 euros per megawatt hour after going through a period with lower prices during the autumn.

Although the price remains low compared to August, it is higher than it was two years ago, according to comments previously given to news wire Ritzau by Sydbank’s senior economist Søren Kristensen.

Kristensen said that the cost of heating a housing in Denmark is now 10,000 kroner per year higher on average than it was in the years prior to the energy crisis.

He also said that the winter is likely to push prices up from their current level.

“That will unfortunately mean that it will in no way be a cheap winter in relation to heating up the house or using electricity,” he said.

The Danish Energy Agency information letter will be sent to persons who own single-family houses which are heated by natural gas heaters, according to information stored on the national register BBR (Bygnings- og Boligregistret).

“At this time we have particular focus on those who live in villas or semi-detached houses because they have seen the largest of all the gas bill increases,” Rudnicki said.

In some cases, persons who no longer have gas heating will receive the letter if the BBR registry has not been updated, he noted.

Advice included in the information packs includes reducing temperature, using less hot water and having gas boilers services.

The saving tips may also be relevant for people who live in other types of housing, such as apartments, rental houses or terraced houses, according to the Energy Agency.

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