Three lines in the Nord Stream natural gas pipeline system saw “unprecedented” damage on Monday weeks after the Central Intelligence Agency warned Germany of possible attacks.
Russia severed natural gas flow through Nord Stream 1 earlier this month, citing mechanical issues as energy prices soared as much as twentyfold in some European Union member states. The Swedish Maritime Authority reported two leaks in Nord Stream 1 on Monday shortly after a leak on the nearby Nord Stream 2 was found, according to a report from Reuters. Operators are unsure when the pipeline, which started carrying natural gas from Russia to Germany in 2011, will be repaired.
“The destruction that occurred on the same day simultaneously on three strings of the offshore gas pipelines of the Nord Stream system is unprecedented,” Nord Stream AG said in a statement. “It is not yet possible to estimate the timing of the restoration of the gas transport infrastructure.”
Denmark limited shipping within a radius of five nautical miles after the damage was discovered. Before Russia nixed the flow of natural gas one month ago, Nord Stream 1 had only been operating at 20% capacity, which Moscow pinned on faulty equipment.
As natural gas poured into the Baltic Sea and the possibility of an explosion mounted, according to a report from The Guardian, some European leaders began blaming Russia.
“Today we faced an act of sabotage,” Polish Prime Minister Mateusz Morawiecki said. “We don’t know all the details of what happened but we see clearly that it’s an act of sabotage, related to the next step of escalation of the situation in Ukraine.”
When asked about the possibility of sabotage, Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov told reporters “no option can be ruled out” at the moment.
“This is a very concerning news. Indeed, we are talking about some damage of an unclear nature to the pipeline in Denmark’s economic zone,” Peskov said. “This is an issue related to the energy security of the entire continent.”
A report from German news outlet Spiegel said that the CIA had cautioned Germany about possible attacks on Baltic Sea gas pipelines weeks ago. Berlin is presently assuming it was a targeted attack on the Nord Stream system, unnamed sources said.
President Joe Biden had initially waived sanctions against the Russian-owned company behind Nord Stream 2, although he reimposed sanctions shortly before the Ukraine invasion began.
“These steps are another piece of our initial tranche of sanctions in response to Russia’s actions in Ukraine,” the commander-in-chief remarked in a statement. “As I have made clear, we will not hesitate to take further steps if Russia continues to escalate.”
Germany, the continent’s largest economy, relied upon Russian natural gas for 55% of its imports before the beginning of the conflict. The producer price index for industrial products in Germany has risen 45.8% year-over-year as of August 2022, according to data from the Federal Statistical Office of Germany, which followed increases of 37.2% in July 2022 and 32.7% in June 2022.
Several manufacturers have therefore paused operations in response to high energy prices and a likely drop in consumer demand. Industrial production in the eurozone has fallen 2.3%, according to data from the European Union.