Images released of Nord Stream leak sites as Danish police confirm explosions

At least 50 metres of the Nord Stream 1 pipeline has been destroyed or buried under the seafloor following assumed sabotage, underwater images published on Tuesday showed. Denmark's police meanwhile said its investigations had confirmed the leaks were caused by explosions.

Images released of Nord Stream leak sites as Danish police confirm explosions
Gas emissions in the Baltic Sea from the Nord Stream pipeline on September 27th. Photo: Swedish Coast Guard

In videos published by Swedish newspaper Expressen, a massive tear and twisted metal can be seen on the Nord Stream 1 pipeline 80 metres down.

According to the newspaper, the videos that were filmed on Monday show how over 50 metres of the pipeline is either missing or buried under the seabed, and long tears can be observed on the seabed leading up to the burst pipe.

“It is only an extreme force that can bend metal that thick in the way we are seeing,” Trond Larsen, drone operator with the Norwegian company Blueye Robotics, told Expressen.

Larsen, who piloted the submersible drone which captured the video, also said you could also see “a very large impact on the seabed around the pipe.”

Investigations by Denmark’s police, military and intelligence service PET have meanwhile confirmed that the leaks at Nord Stream 1 and 2 were caused by explosions, the Danish police said in a statement on Tuesday.

Copenhagen Police and PET are working together on the investigation into what caused the leakages, the statement said.

“Investigations have confirmed that extensive damage occurred to Nord Stream 1 and 2 in Denmark’s exclusive economic zone and that the damage was caused by powerful explosions,” the written statement said.

Copenhagen Police said it was too early to say when the investigation would be complete, but that it would continue to work closely with “relevant authorities in Denmark and abroad” to examine the explosion sites.

The two Nord Stream pipelines were damaged by explosions under the Baltic Sea at the end of September, causing four leaks.

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

Swedish authorities announced on October 6th that they had conducted an underwater inspection of the site and collected “pieces of evidence,” and that the inspection backed up suspicions of probable sabotage.

The 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 over Moscow’s invasion of Ukraine.

Although the pipelines were not in operation, they contained gas before falling victim to the apparent sabotage.

READ ALSO: Sweden opts out of joint Nord Stream probe with Germany and Denmark

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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?