Sabotage may be responsible for a leak in a key underwater natural gas pipeline that runs under the Baltic Sea, the Finnish government suggested Tuesday.
The Balticconnector pipeline, which allows for gas transmission between Estonia and Finland, has been ruptured, though the specific cause is currently unknown, according to a statement by Finnish President Sauli Niinistö. Some officials believe that Russia is the likely culprit, acting in retaliation for Finland’s decision to join NATO and for the September 2022 destruction of Nord Stream pipelines that carry Russian natural gas into Western Europe, according to the BBC.
“It is likely that the damage to both the gas pipeline and the data cable is caused by external activity,” Niinistö said in the statement. “The investigation will continue in cooperation between Finland and Estonia,” he continued, adding that “NATO is ready to assist with the investigation.”
NATO is making efforts to enhance the security of critical undersea infrastructure and pipelines, and is continuing to monitor the situation closely in coordination with Estonia and Finland, a NATO spokesperson told the Daily Caller News Foundation.
Norway’s seismological observation organization announced that it had picked up on a “probable explosion” along Finland’s Baltic coast at around 1:20 on Sunday evening. Finland’s National Bureau of Investigation (KRP) suggested that there were “no indications” that explosives were used to cause the damage, which is estimated to take months to fix, according to the BBC.
“The discovered damage could not have been caused by normal use of the pipeline or pressure fluctuations,” Finnish Prime Minister Petteri Orpo said, according to the BBC. Other potential causes for the leak, such as naturally-occurring seismic activity, reportedly already have been ruled out.
The observed seismic event was determined to be significantly less powerful than the blasts that destroyed the Nord Stream pipelines.
“Frankly, we were expecting something like this sooner,” one anonymous Finnish source familiar with the situation said, according to the BBC.
News of the leak prompted British natural gas prices to spike by as much as 13.5% amid revived fears of energy insecurity for the U.K and for Europe more broadly, according to the BBC. However, the Finnish government has stated that the damage will not threaten Finland’s gas supply, which it claims is adequate even without the pipeline in service.
The embassies of Finland, Estonia and Russia all did not respond immediately to requests for comment.
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