Pressure in Defunct Nord Stream 2 Pipeline Plunges Overnight, Cause Unknown

(Reuters) — Authorities in Germany are trying to establish what caused a sudden drop in pressure in the defunct Nord Stream 2 gas pipeline, with a spokesperson for its operator telling Reuters on Monday it could have been caused by a leak.

The pipeline has been one of the flashpoints in an escalating energy war between Europe and Moscow since Russia's invasion of Ukraine in February that has pummeled major Western economies and sent gas prices soaring.

Nord Stream 2's operator said pressure in the undersea pipeline dropped from 105 to 7 bars overnight.

The Russian-owned pipeline, which was intended to double the volume of gas flowing from St. Petersburg under the Baltic Sea to Germany, had just been completed and filled with 300 million cubic meters of gas when German Chancellor Olaf Scholz cancelled it shortly before Russia invaded Ukraine.

European countries have resisted Russian calls to allow the Nord Stream 2 pipeline to operate and accused Moscow of using energy as a weapon. Russia denies doing so and blames the West for gas shortages.

"We are currently in contact with the authorities concerned in order to clarify the situation. We still have no clarity about the causes and the exact facts," said a statement from the German economy ministry.

The Swiss-based operator, which has legally been wound up, said it had informed all relevant authorities and that the leak, if that were the cause, could not have been at the landing point in Lubmin, northern Germany.

"If it were in Lubmin, you'd have heard it," the spokesperson said.

Gazprom referred questions about the incident to the Nord Stream 2 operator.

Germany has informed the Danish authorities about the incident, the ministry said, and was trying to establish whether the drop in pressure occurred in German waters. The government was coordinating its response with the energy regulator, police and local authorities, the statement added.

Russia has cut off gas supplies to several countries and halted flows through the Nord Stream 1 pipeline, blaming Western sanctions for hindering operations.

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