The 2022 Nord Stream gas leaks were a series of explosions and subsequent gas leaks that occurred on the Nord Stream 1 and Nord Stream 2 natural gas pipelines on 26 September 2022. Both pipeline pairs were built to transport natural gas from Russia to Germany through the Baltic Sea, and are majority owned by the Russian majority state-owned gas company, Gazprom. The leaks happened as the Baltic Pipe was being opened for natural gas to come in from the North Sea through Denmark to Poland and are believed to have been caused by intentional sabotage; however, the perpetrators’ identities and the motives behind such intentional sabotage remain debated.
Prior to the leaks, the pipelines had not been operating due to disputes between Russia and the European Union in the wake of the invasion of Ukraine but were filled with natural gas. On 26 September at 02:03 local time ( CEST ), an explosion was detected originating from Nord Stream 2; a pressure drop in the pipeline was reported and natural gas began escaping to the surface southeast of the Danish island of Bornholm. Seventeen hours later, the same occurred to Nord Stream 1, resulting in three separate leaks northeast of Bornholm. All three affected pipes were rendered inoperable; Russia has confirmed one of the two Nord Stream 2 pipes is operable and is thus ready to deliver gas through Nord Stream 2. The leaks occurred one day after Poland and Norway opened the alternative Baltic Pipe running through Denmark, bringing in gas from the North Sea rather than from Russia as the Nord Stream pipelines do. The leaks are located in international waters (not part of any nation’s territorial sea), but within the economic zones of Denmark and Sweden.
Danish Prime Minister Mette Frederiksen said that the leaks were caused by deliberate action, not accidents, and specified that explosions had been recorded. Sweden’s Prime Minister Magdalena Andersson said that it likely was sabotage, a view that was also expressed by European Union officials and the secretary general of NATO, Jens Stoltenberg. Earlier, several commentators had suggested that the circumstances surrounding the leaks appeared to be suspicious and they had possibly been acts of sabotage. Nord Stream AG, the Gazprom-owned operator of Nord Stream, said the pipelines had sustained “unprecedented” damage in one day. On 29 September, Russian President Vladimir Putin called the emergency at Nord Stream “an unprecedented act of international terrorism”.
Pictures from ESA
Emissions of methane, a potent greenhouse gas, from the leaks are equal to a few days of the emissions from regular fossil fuel production. However, the leaks set a record as the single largest discharge of methane, dwarfing all previously known leaks.