The gas leak in the Baltic Sea, photographed from a Danish aircraft
Photo: Danish Defense Command / Forsvaret Ritzau Scanpix / REUTERS
The damage to the Nord Stream 1 and 2 gas pipelines is probably greater than expected.
According to SPIEGEL information, it was said from circles in the federal government that the lines near the Baltic Sea island of Bornholm had been torn open over a longer distance.
There is no other way to explain the "explosive drop in pressure" in the pipelines.
A video posted by the Danish military on Twitter also shows air bubbles escaping into the sea over a larger area.
The largest leak is visible at the water surface over a radius of more than a kilometer, it said.
There is concern in the federal government that this could be a targeted attack on the European gas infrastructure and the gas markets.
An insider told SPIEGEL that three out of four strands of the Baltic Sea pipelines have been damaged.
Don't believe in coincidence.
It could be an attack to provoke uncertainty on the European gas markets.
According to SPIEGEL information, the security concepts of other pipelines and gas supply systems are now being checked at high pressure in order to reduce the risk of further possible attacks.
Danish Navy suspects sabotage
While the Nord Stream 2 pipeline was never put into operation after its completion, but was only filled with gas once, gas flowed to Germany through the Nord Stream 1 pipeline until the beginning of September.
The operator of Nord Stream 1 also reported a pressure drop after the leak on Nord Stream 2 became known.
Both tubes were affected, according to a spokesman.
The capacity fell unplanned to zero, according to market information that is mandatory for network operators.
The Danish Navy said there was a lot to be said for sabotage.
If it were an attack, given the technical complexity, only a state actor would actually come into question.
Poland suspects a Russian provocation behind the mysterious pipeline leaks.
"Unfortunately, our eastern neighbor is pursuing an aggressive policy," said Poland's Deputy Foreign Minister Marcin Przydacz.
If he is capable of doing so in Ukraine, "it is obvious that provocations cannot be ruled out, not even in the sections that are in Western Europe".
Russia also put the word sabotage in the room - but sees itself as a victim.
"Now no variant can be ruled out," said Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov when asked whether sabotage could be the reason for the drop in pressure.
Because of the leaks, the responsible Danish shipping authority has set up restricted zones for shipping near the Danish island of Bornholm.
Danish authorities have discovered a total of three leaks in the gas pipelines.
The Danish energy authority said there was talk of two leaks on Nord Stream 1 northeast of the Baltic Sea island of Bornholm and one on Nord Stream 2 southeast of the island.
In the case of Nord Stream 1, one leak is in Danish waters and the other in Swedish waters.
The Nord Stream 2 leak is in Danish waters.
Crisis teams have now been convened in both Denmark and Sweden.
Investigations are currently being carried out, said a spokesman for Nord Stream AG, which is responsible for Nord Stream 1.
No information can yet be given on the extent of any damage.
In the area around Bornholm, the lines are about 70 meters below the water surface, he says.
According to Nord Stream 2 spokesman Ulrich Lissek, the lines are laid in such a way that it is highly unlikely that several lines will be damaged at the same time, for example by a single ship accident.
When asked if he was aware of similar incidents involving offshore pipelines, he said, "I've never heard of them."
An expert for underwater robots also referred to the extremely high safety standards and the very robust construction of the lines.
In his view, only deliberate manipulation is possible.
According to his assessment, authorities will now carry out investigations with diving robots.
The gas supply is secure, the ecosystem is not
As the Danish newspaper "Jyllands-Posten" reports, the leak at Nord Stream 2 was discovered on Monday by Danish F-16 fighter jets.
They were therefore sent into the air from Bornholm to photograph the area.
They had discovered that at a point south-east of the island bubbles had risen from the water.
According to the Danish Energy Agency, ships may lose buoyancy when entering the area.
There is also a risk of ignition.
There is no danger outside the zone, not even for the residents of Bornholm and the small neighboring island of Christiansø.
German and Danish authorities pointed out that the incidents had no impact on the gas supply, as the pipelines had not recently been used for gas imports.
While gas was still flowing from Russia to Germany via the Nord Stream 1 pipeline until a few weeks ago - albeit with reduced capacity - the German government put the approval for import via Nord Stream 2 on hold shortly before the Russian attack on Ukraine been.
After that, she had ruled out use because of the war.
The Bund für Umwelt und Naturschutz (BUND) estimates the possible short-term effects of the leaks on the Nord Stream 1 and 2 gas pipelines on the environment as locally limited.
"However, there is a risk for the animals to suffocate there," said Nadja Ziebarth, head of the BUND marine protection office.
»This particularly applies to the animals that cannot flee quickly.«
Like the German Environmental Aid (DUH), the BUND also sees a climate hazard from the escaping methane.
This is 25 times more harmful than CO2.
Pure methane that dissolves in the sea is said to be non-toxic.
However, the composition of the gas in the Nord Stream tubes is not known.
After weeks of downward movement, prices on Europe's gas exchanges rose again noticeably on Tuesday.
One megawatt hour of natural gas for delivery in October at around 2 p.m. on the Dutch reference market TTF cost EUR 192.50: around ten percent more than the day before.