Gas pipelines leaked to the last thread - Newspaper Kommersant No. 178 (7379) of 09/27/2022

Both routes of gas supplies to Europe along the bottom of the Baltic Sea have been disabled. First, there was a serious accident at Nord Stream 2, which was never put into operation. The pressure in one of the two lines of the gas pipeline near the Danish island of Bornholm has dropped sharply. The cause of the leak is still being investigated, but a spokesman for project operator Nord Stream 2 AG has already said that "a hole has probably appeared somewhere" along the pipeline. On the evening of September 26, it became known about the pressure drop in both strings of the Nord Stream 1 gas pipeline, the reason is still unknown. Repair, if we consider similar cases, can take up to several years, analysts say.

In one of the strings of the Nord Stream 2 gas pipeline laid along the bottom of the Baltic Sea, gas pressure dropped, the operator of the Nord Stream 2 AG project said on the afternoon of September 26. Presumably, the incident occurred near the Danish island of Bornholm (the pipeline was laid southeast of the island outside the territorial waters in the exclusive economic zone of Denmark), where the Russian vessel Fortuna was laying a section of the pipe at a depth of about 100 m. The Danish Maritime Authority on Monday reported a gas leak near the island that "could be dangerous for shipping." The agency recommended bypassing the emergency area for five miles, this information was also confirmed by Nord Stream 2 AG. Although the gas pipeline was not put into operation, both of its strings were filled with gas and were under pressure, and technically the system was ready to start working at any moment.

According to Nord Stream 2 AG spokesman Ulrich Lissek, quoted by the DPA, "somewhere" along the pipeline "probably appeared a hole." Under normal conditions, the pressure inside the gas pipeline "is 105 bar", but now on the German segment it is "only 7 bar".

Establishing the reasons for the drop in pressure, according to him, "is complicated by the sanctions regime and the lack of personnel on the ground."

On the evening of September 26, the operator of the existing Nord Stream gas pipeline, Nord Stream, reported a pressure drop in both strings. The reason is being clarified. Now the gas pipeline is not pumping gas due to a malfunction of equipment at the Portovaya compressor station, but until early September it was the main route for Russian gas supplies to Europe. Simultaneous damage to both gas pipelines expands the number of possible versions about the causes of the accident.

The German authorities said they are working with Danish authorities and local law enforcement agencies to find out the reasons for the pressure drop in Nord Stream 2. Nord Stream 2 AG and Gazprom did not provide additional comments on the timing of the accident prevention and its causes.

It is not clear who will eliminate the consequences of the accident, since Nord Stream 2 AG is under US sanctions, and is also undergoing bankruptcy proceedings, which, however, has been suspended until January 2023.

Control in Nord Stream belongs to Gazprom, while European companies Wintershall Dea, E.ON, Gasunie and Engie act as minority shareholders. Gazprom did not answer the question whether the company is ready to deal with the elimination of the consequences of accidents and the restoration of gas pipelines.

Vladimir PutinPresident of the Russian Federation, September 16:

“In the end, if it’s impatient, if everything is so difficult, take and lift the sanctions on Nord Stream 2. 55 billion cubic meters per year - just press a button, and everything went.

The creation of Nord Stream 2 has been causing resistance from the United States and some EU countries for several years now. The pipeline was supposed to double the existing subsea infrastructure from Gazprom's fields to Germany, while transporting another 55 billion cubic meters of gas per year in parallel with Nord Stream. The gas pipeline was ready to begin deliveries in December 2021, but fell under US sanctions. The German government carried out the certification of the project, but completely stopped it after the outbreak of hostilities in Ukraine. In May, Gazprom announced that it intends to use the onshore part of the gas pipeline infrastructure to supply gas to the regions of the north-west of the Russian Federation.

Sergei Kondratiev, Deputy Head of the Economic Department of the Institute of Energy and Finance, notes that it is now difficult to say what exactly happened, but the rate of pressure drop - from 300 to 7 bar, probably indicates that this is not a simple leak (due to a poorly welded seam). ), but, for example, about an explosion.

According to Mr. Kondratyev, the Nord Stream 2 project is unique and so far there are no examples of accidents on underwater gas pipelines with a diameter of 1420 mm (this is also true for Nord Stream). Such accidents happen infrequently.

For example, he recalls, in October 2013, the Yacheng (28-inch / 710 mm) gas pipeline linking mainland China and Hong Kong was damaged in the South China Sea in October 2013, then it took more than four years to repair. “Conditions in the Baltic Sea (especially in winter) are not easy and may create difficulties for repair work,” he said.

In his opinion, the repair work will take a long time, including due to the need to contract the necessary vessels, search for mechanisms for their payment, and other things. “This incident may also have consequences for the gas market. Russia and Gazprom proposed launching Nord Stream 2 instead of Nord Stream, now this option will be at least limited to one branch, Mr. Kondratiev believes. Pipe, an additional survey of this gas pipeline will be required.”

Tatyana Dyatel

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