Oslo/Brussels (Aftenposten): Explosion or accident? Could Russian ships participate? There are more questions than answers.
It is still unclear what caused the leak in the gas pipeline linking Finland and Estonia in the Baltic Sea. Shortly before Sunday 02, the pressure in the line decreased.
Was it an explosion or an accident where the anchor got stuck in the pipe? It has not been determined yet.
In a press conference on Wednesday afternoon, Mikko Simula of the Border Guard said that work to investigate and document the actual damage to the gas line and the area surrounding the damage will continue in the coming days.
-We estimate that the underwater investigation will take at least two days. Simula says, according to the Finnish newspaper, that the conditions were harsh due to the weather howling.
The leakage point has been found. It is located in the Finnish economic region on the Baltic Sea. A telecommunications cable within Estonia’s economic zone was also damaged.
At present, Simola will not describe exactly what they found on the seabed or regarding the damage to the gas line.
When the authorities are asked about Russia, they do not want to speculate.
President: “External activity”
- Finnish President Sauli Niinistö said on Tuesday that the gas leak may have been caused by “external activity.”
- Estonian Navy Commander Juri Saska believes there may be several possible answers. But he believes “something tore the pipe from the side.”
– It’s an external influence, that’s clear. It may be a mechanical effect, or it may be related to something that hit the pipe on the sea floor. We don’t know for sure yet, Sasha says of the Estonian Broadcasting Company ERR.
-The pipe itself is coated with concrete. “It’s almost as if someone tore it off the side, and the concrete cracked or disintegrated at that point,” he says.
Norsar recorded the tremor
NorwegiansNorwegiansThe Norsar Foundation is a Norwegian research institute specializing in research and services related to seismology and applied geophysics. It operates some of the largest seismic stations in the world. Source: Wikipedia informs On their websites About a “possible explosion” along the Finnish Baltic coast. The time was 00.20 Norwegian time on Saturday 8 October.
The signal was much weaker than after the Nord Stream explosion in September 2022. It was picked up by a seismic station in southern Finland.
Noticed Russian ships
Several media outlets have reported on what is seen as clear Russian activity in the region.
The Russian cargo ship “SGV Flot” was close to the site of the gas pipeline explosion from Friday at 20 until Sunday at 23. He writes Finnish newspaper Helsingin Sanomat.
The Russian ship “Sebergakov” was seen near the pipeline in September. The ship will belong to the Russian Baltic Fleet. Reported by Dagbladet Børsen On its website Tuesday.
The same vessel should have been noticed around the Nord Stream pipeline before last year’s explosion.
Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov described the damage as worrying.
At the press conference on Wednesday, Mikko Simola of border control would not comment on the Russian ship in particular.
– But Grensekontrollen carries out careful monitoring of our marine areas every day, around the clock and all year round. Monitoring is carried out at ship level.
NATO warns of a “decisive response”
NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg warned of a “joint and resolute response” if the damage was found to be caused by an attack. He made the statement during a press conference in Brussels ahead of a two-day meeting with NATO defense ministers.
What lies in the “certain answer” is unknown.
One year ago, the Nord Stream 1 and 2 gas pipelines were destroyed in explosions off the Danish island of Bornholm.
Later, NATO established a coordination unit. It will reveal vulnerabilities in critical undersea infrastructure.
Sweden, Denmark and Germany each conducted their own investigations after the sabotage at Nord Stream. Sweden announced that a result may be reached by the end of the year.
Norway has offered to help
Swedish authorities offered assistance. The same applies to Norway.
Defense Minister Björn Arild Gramm said a dialogue between the armed forces and Finnish military authorities had already begun on Sunday. The Norwegian Armed Forces have offered assistance in the form of competence building and transfer of expertise.
-So far, the Finns have not made concrete requests for help from Norway. But if support from Norway is needed, we will be positive about it, Gram says in an email to Aftenposten.
He says civil authorities, such as the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, the Police Directorate and the Ministry of Justice and Emergency Preparedness, have also been in contact with Finnish authorities.
The Norwegian experience in dealing with the situation on the Norwegian continental shelf following the act of sabotage against Nord Stream pipelines could be of value to the Finns.
NATO, following the initiative of Norway and Germany, has established a center for underwater infrastructure security under NATO’s Maritime Command, MARCOM.
– So, if Finland wants help through experience and expertise, it will get it, Gram promised.
The police step up
The Norwegian Defense Forces have informed Aftenposten that there is no change in the level of preparedness on the Norwegian continental shelf as a result of the incident in the Baltic Sea.
But the Western Police District is increasing its preparations around oil and gas facilities.
– We have increased emphasis on preventive patrols at oil and gas facilities in our region, says Operations Manager Helge Blindheim of the Western Police District. For the Bergen newspaper.
Gas supplies to Finland have not been interrupted
The Finnish gas system operating the line, Gasgrid, reported that the Finnish gas system is stable, and gas supplies are secured through a liquefied natural gas (LNG) terminal in the town of Enko. Gas supplies in Estonia were not affected. The country is supplied with gas from Latvia.
The Balticconnector gas pipeline extends from Enko in southern Finland to Paldiski in Estonia and is 77 km long. The pipeline has a diameter of 70 centimeters and gives Finland access to gas from Latvia. It began operations in 2020.
Gas pipe repair may take several months. But the volume they move is so small that it will not have a significant impact on supply and prices.
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