Explosion in Lithuanian gas pipeline, no injuries reported

Vilnius, Lithuania—An explosion struck a pipeline in central Lithuania on Friday carrying gas to the north and neighboring Latvia, but no injuries or major disruptions to supplies were reported. Baltic media said the blast sent flames up to 50 meters (164 feet) high and forced him to evacuate to protect a nearby village.

AB Amber Grid, the operator of Lithuania’s natural gas transmission system, said the explosion occurred away from a residential building and that “according to initial data” no one was injured. “(Firefighters) who arrived on the scene immediately are working to extinguish the fire,” the company said in a statement.

Raimonds Cudars, the energy minister of neighboring Latvia, said the explosion in Lithuania had not caused problems with Latvia’s natural gas supply so far.

The Baltic News Service said the Cudars were informed the reason for the explosion was a technical accident.

Amber Grid said the explosion appeared to have occurred in one of the two parallel pipelines, leaving the other pipeline undamaged. He said gas supplies to Latvia would be restored within hours. Repair work on the damaged pipeline is scheduled to begin on Saturday.

Gas flow through damaged pipelines in the Pasvalys area was immediately interrupted.

“We immediately investigated the circumstances of the incident and began securing gas supplies to consumers,” Amber Grid CEO Nemunus Viknius said in a statement. rice field.

Firefighters rushed to the scene and flames lit up the dark sky, and on Friday night, flames could be seen several kilometers away as gas remaining in the pipes continued to burn.

“A plane seemed to be flying low somewhere. A high-pressure gas pipeline exploded,” Pasvalis district mayor Gintautas Gegdinskas told LRT RADIO. “The flames are flying high.”

Lithuanian broadcaster LRT said Valakeliai village, home to about 250 inhabitants, had been evacuated as a precautionary measure.

The village is less than one kilometer (0.6 miles) from the pipeline. “No panic. [firefighters] I’m waiting to make sure the building doesn’t catch fire. I think the situation will settle down,” Sigitas Šležas, a member of the Valakeliai village community, told his BNS.

The pipeline carries gas from Lithuania’s Baltic port of Klaipeda to Latvia. Klaipeda is Lithuania’s only major port.

In September, an undersea explosion in the Baltic Sea ruptured the Nord Stream 1 pipeline. This pipeline was the main supply route to Germany until Russia stopped supplying her at the end of August. They also damaged the Nord Stream 2 pipeline, which did not enter service because Germany interrupted the certification process just before Russia invaded Ukraine in February.

Lithuania was the first EU member state to completely cut off Russian gas imports in April 2022, weeks after its invasion. The Baltics import gas from several countries through the decade-old Klaipeda liquefied natural gas terminal. The terminal will meet all of Lithuania’s natural gas needs and enable deliveries to neighboring countries.

Lyudas Dapkus

Associated Press