Nord Stream 2, Russia’s controversial gas pipeline, has started to leak into the Baltic Sea, endangering shipping traffic, Denmark has warned.
It established a prohibition zone within five nautical miles (9 km) of the pipeline near the island of Bornholm. The Danish Energy Ministry said it had acted after being informed on Monday about a drop in pressure in the now-defunct underwater pipeline.
The operating company Nord Stream 2 AG said the crash happened overnight.
“The Nord Stream 2 landing dispatcher recorded a rapid gas pressure drop on Line A of the Nord Stream 2 natural gas pipeline,” it said in a statement, adding that it was investigating the matter.
The majority shareholder of the company is the Russian state giant Gazprom. In its statement, the Danish Energy Ministry said: “There are no safety risks related to the leak outside the prohibition zone.
“The incident is not expected to have consequences for the security of Danish gas supply.”
Nord Stream 2 had been built to deliver gas from Russia to Germany and other European nations. Still, the multi-billion euro project was halted after Russia invaded Ukraine in February.
However, gas had already been pumped into the pipe, and there are now concerns that large amounts of it could be released into the atmosphere. Nord Stream 1 – a parallel gas pipeline – has been shut for several weeks, with Gazprom saying it was doing maintenance work to fix an earlier leak.
The European Union accuses Russia of using its gas supplies to blackmail Europe because of its war in Ukraine, but Moscow denies this.
Energy prices have soared since Moscow invaded Ukraine, and scarce supplies could increase costs even further. There are growing fears families in the EU will be unable to afford the cost of heating this winter.
Europe is now attempting to wean itself off Russian energy to reduce Moscow’s ability to finance the war, but the transition may not come quickly enough.