Copenhagen: Danish authorities asked ships to avoid a five-nautical-mile radius off the island of Bornholm on Monday after a gas leak from the defunct Russian-owned Nord Stream 2 pipeline drained into the Baltic Sea overnight.
The German government said it was in contact with Danish authorities and working with local law enforcement to determine what caused the pipeline pressure to suddenly drop. The Danish Ministry of Energy declined to comment.
The operator of the Nord Stream 1 pipeline, which had been running at reduced capacity since mid-June before shutting down completely in August, also disclosed a pressure drop on both lines of the gas pipeline on Monday evening.
"The reasons are being investigated," Nord Stream AG stated on its website, without providing any further details.
Since Russia's invasion of Ukraine in February, which has pummelling major Western economies and sent gas prices soaring, the pipeline has been one of the flashpoints in an escalating energy war between Europe and Moscow.
"A leak on the Nord Stream 2 pipeline in the Danish area occurred today," Denmark's energy agency said in a statement.
The pressure drop in both pipelines "underscores the German network regulator's assessment that the situation is tense," said Klaus Mueller, president of the German network regulator, on Twitter.
The regulator stated that it is currently unknown what caused the pressure drop, but that the event had no impact on German supply security and that the country's gas storage levels were around 91 percent.
Danish maritime authorities issued a navigation warning and established a zone around the Nord Stream 2 pipeline "because it is dangerous for ship traffic," according to the statement.
The operator of Nord Stream 2 reported that pressure in the pipeline, which had some gas sealed inside despite never becoming operational, dropped from 105 to 7 bars overnight.
The pipeline, which was to double the volume of gas flowing from St. Petersburg to Germany through the Baltic Sea, had just been completed and filled with 300 million cubic metres of gas when Germany cancelled it days before the invasion.
THERE IS NO CLARITY
The operator of Nord Stream 2 said in a statement, "Overnight, the Nord Stream 2 landfall dispatcher registered a rapid gas pressure drop on Line A of the Nord Stream 2 natural gas pipeline."
"The investigation is still ongoing."
European countries have resisted Russian pressure to open the Nord Stream 2 pipeline, accusing Moscow of using energy as a weapon. Russia denies this and blames the West for the current gas shortage.
We are currently in contact with the relevant authorities to clarify the situation. "We still don't know what caused it or what the exact facts are," said the German economy ministry in a statement.
The Swiss-based operator, which has been legally dissolved, stated that it had notified all relevant authorities about the leak.
The Russian gas exporter Gazprom referred questions about the incident to the operator of Nord Stream 2.
Russia has cut off gas supplies to a number of countries and also halted flows through the Nord Stream 1 pipeline, blaming Western sanctions for the disruption.
President Vladimir Putin chastised the West in September for keeping Nord Stream 2 closed.
The gas leak occurred a day before the ceremonial opening of the Baltic Pipe, which transports gas from Norway to Poland.
The project is a focal point in Warsaw's efforts to diversify away from Russian gas. Danish Prime Minister Mette Frederiksen is scheduled to visit Poland on Tuesday to commemorate the occasion.
Nord Stream 2 was widely opposed by Danish lawmakers, and the country passed legislation in 2017 that allowed it to prohibit the project from passing through its territorial waters on security grounds.
However, Nord Stream 2 later changed its original route to avoid Denmark's exclusive economic zone, where this veto could not be used.