Denmark reports leak in Baltic gas pipeline


BERLIN—Denmark maritime authorities said on Monday that a gas leak was observed in a pipeline leading from Russia to Europe under the Baltic Sea, posing a danger to shipping traffic.

The operator of Nord Stream 2 has confirmed that a pipeline leak has been detected southeast of the Danish island of Bornholm in the Baltic Sea.

The pipeline will run 1,230 kilometers (764 miles) from Russia through the Baltic Sea to Germany. It is finished and filled with gas, but no gas was ever imported through it, dpa reported.

The cause of the detected leak was not immediately apparent.

The Danish Energy Agency said in a statement that the country’s maritime authorities had issued a navigation warning and set a 5 nautical mile no-go zone around the pipeline “because it is dangerous for shipping traffic”.

Relevant authorities are now coordinating the effort, and the Danish Energy Agency added that “outside the exclusion zone there is no security risk associated with the leak.”

The incident is not expected to affect the security of Denmark’s gas supply, the country’s energy agency said.

A spokesman for the operator of Nord Stream 2 said a pressure drop was detected in the tube early Monday morning and the responsible maritime authorities in Germany, Denmark, Sweden, Finland and Russia were notified immediately, dpa reported.

The pressure in the pipeline is normally 105 bar, but is currently only 7 bar on the German side, said spokesman Ulrich Lissek.

He fears the 177 million cubic meters of gas-filled pipelines will dry up in the coming days, dpa reports.

It was not immediately clear what the consequences would be, but German environmental groups said the leaked gas was not toxic.

Deutsche Umwelthilfe pointed out that natural gas is methane, partially soluble in water and non-toxic. According to dpa, the deeper the gas is released into the ocean, the higher the rate at which it dissolves in water, the group said.

Deutsche Umwelthilfe said that even if an explosion were to occur underwater, the effects would only be localized.

The German economy ministry said it had been informed of the suspected location within Danish waters and was in contact with German and Danish authorities.

The pipeline was already complete when German Chancellor Olaf Scholz suspended certification of Nord Stream 2 on the eve of Russia’s invasion of Ukraine in February. This is after Russia formally recognized her two Russian-backed segregated regions in eastern Ukraine.

Germany has relied heavily on natural gas supplies from Russia, but Berlin has sought other sources of energy since Russia started the war in Ukraine on February 24.

The leak comes a day before the inauguration of a new pipeline, the Baltic Pipe, which will carry Norwegian gas to Poland via Denmark. Norwegian gas is intended to play a key role in replacing Russian gas.

Associated Press