The Nord Stream Conundrum

 

w/c 3rd October 2022

There was a bit of a media flap last week when a series of underwater explosions damaged both the Nord Stream 1 and 2 pipelines which previously brought gas from Russia to Germany under the Baltic Sea. Both pipelines are majority owned by the Russian energy company Gazprom and were a major source of revenue to the Russian state before being closed down during the early states of the Ukraine war as Moscow flexed its economic muscles.

The sight of methane gas bubbling to the surface in the aftermath made the headlines around the world, and yet nobody has been able to come up with an explanation, or indeed a culprit, for the presumed sabotage attacks. Typically, Russia blamed the USA and vice versa, but the question “why” has yet to be answered. That the leaks happened as the Baltic Pipe was being opened to allow natural gas to come in from the North Sea through Denmark to Poland has led some to speculate that Russia had sabotaged its own pipelines as a warning to the west that its underseas connections were at risk if support for Ukraine continued.

No doubt the truth will out eventually, but the actions has certainly grabbed the attention of governments in Europe and beyond. Just recently the UK’s Defence Secretary, Ben Wallace MP, has announced that Britain is to procure two specialist ships to keep the UK’s underwater pipelines and cables safe. In the defence procurement context this is very speedy action indeed, and indicates that the threat is very real. No doubt other governments will follow in due course, if they have not done so already.

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