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10 Oct, 2023 13:44

Sabotage suspected in Baltic pipeline leak

Finland is reportedly considering requesting help from NATO in the investigation
Sabotage suspected in Baltic pipeline leak

A probe has been launched into leakage from Balticconnector, an undersea gas pipe connecting Finland and Estonia, based on suspicions that the route was deliberately damaged, Helsinki announced on Tuesday.

During a press conference, Finnish President Sauli Niinisto suggested that the pipeline and telecoms cable had been damaged in what may have been a deliberate act.

“It is likely that damage to both the gas pipeline and the communication cable is the result of outside activity. The cause of the damage is not yet clear, the investigation continues in cooperation between Finland and Estonia,” Niinisto said in a statement.

Finland’s energy supply remains stable, according to Finnish Prime Minister Petteri Orpo. He added that leakage from the pipeline was “worrying,” but the damage to the telecommunications cable did not affect the country’s connectivity.

“It is too early to draw conclusions on who or what caused the damage,” Orpo told a press conference.

The Balticconnector pipeline was shut down on Sunday morning due to a suspected leakage. Commenting on the stoppage, a senior executive at Finnish state-run energy company Gasgrid Janne Gronlund said that the link may remain offline up to the end of the upcoming winter.

Launched in 2019, the 77-kilometer (47-mile) pipeline link that is used to transfer gas from a Liquefied Natural Gas (LNG) import terminal in Finland to Estonia has an annual capacity of 2.6 billion cubic meters.

President Niinisto said earlier that Helsinki was in constant contact with its allies and partners, Yle News reported.

“I had a conversation with NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg today. NATO is ready to assist in the investigations,” the head of state told the media.

The investigation has revived concerns about the vulnerability of undersea infrastructure following explosions at the nearby Nord Stream pipelines. The natural gas pipeline linking Russia to Germany was blown up in an apparent act of sabotage last year. European countries have since stepped up security of infrastructure in response.

European gas prices rose as much as 12.7% on Tuesday, reaching the highest level in around two weeks. The latest surge is attributed to the news about the Balticconnector shutdown, as well as the halt of production at a field in Israel by the US energy giant Chevron.

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