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Nord Stream Pipeline Breaks Look Deliberate, Europeans Say


Moscow then began diminishing its supplies through existing lines, first choking off flows through overland pipelines, as President Vladimir V. Putin appeared to calculate that Russia could absorb the resulting economic pain longer than Europe could. Over the summer, Nord Stream 1 operated at a fraction of its capability, and the flow halted in late August. The escalation has sent the value of gas soaring and compelled leaders to call on businesses and residents to cut back consumption or face rationing within the winter.

Reflecting the market’s sensitivity to threats, perceived or real, natural gas prices in Europe spiked on news of the leaks, with the benchmark Dutch contract jumping almost 20 percent on Tuesday to 208 euros ($199) per megawatt-hour, compared with about €39 a 12 months earlier. Gas prices, which have been volatile for the reason that war began, peaked at nearly €350 in August but had been falling in recent weeks.

“This has all of the hallmarks of a ‘burning down the home’ energy warfare strategy,” Helima Croft, head of commodities at RBC Capital Markets, said of the likely attacks. “Russia was never going to let the West have a simple energy detox, but these acts of sabotage portend a recent dangerous, asymmetric phase within the Kremlin campaign to boost the economic stakes for its adversaries.”

The 27 European Union member countries agreed in July to chop natural gas use by 15 percent through the spring, and have arranged alternative supplies, allowing them to accumulate their stockpiles. The governments in Denmark and Germany each said on Tuesday that the leaks wouldn’t affect natural gas supplies of their countries.

It will be no easy matter to inflict damage on each of the Nord Streams, each of which is definitely two pipelines. Lying greater than 300 feet below the surface in places, the steel pipes are coated in concrete, designed to face up to the pressures at such depths, in addition to changes in internal pressure on the 760-mile journey from Russia to Germany. They were subject to quite a few stress tests and certification before being laid on the ocean floor.

Swedish scientists said on Tuesday they’d recorded two separate large underwater explosions, several hours apart on Monday, near the Danish island of Bornholm, that registered 1.8 and a couple of.3 on the magnitude scale used to measure earthquakes. They resembled explosions carried out by the Swedish Navy, said Björn Lund, associate professor of seismology on the Swedish National Seismic Network.

“It’s very clear that these weren’t earthquakes,” Mr. Lund said in a phone interview on Tuesday.

Operators of every of the 2 systems, independently of one another, soon after reported drops in pressure inside the pipelines.

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