Finnish authorities raised concerns over the damage to an undersea gas pipeline and communications cable that connects Finland and Estonia. The scale of the damage is so significant that it appears unlikely to have occurred without human interference, it has been reported.
Finnish President Sauli Niinistö stated that it is probable that the damage resulted from external activity, though the exact cause remains unclear.
Russian Sabotage Suspected
While the Finnish government has not explicitly pointed fingers, local media reports citing unnamed government sources suggest Russian sabotage is suspected. This suspicion is further fueled by observations of a Russian survey vessel in the vicinity of the Balticconnector pipeline. However, Finnish Prime Minister Petteri Orpo emphasized the need for a thorough investigation before making any definitive claims about potential perpetrators.
The Finnish government made a statement regarding a gas pipeline leak in the Gulf of Finland.
According to Gasgrid Finland, the only possible reason for the unusual pressure drop in the Balticconnector pipeline is a hole in the pipe. pic.twitter.com/58HfVQtnF5
— Sprinter (@Sprinter99800) October 10, 2023
Timo Kilpeläinen of the Finnish national bureau of investigation noted that the extent of the damage, located within Finland’s exclusive economic area, suggests it could not have occurred accidentally. While there are no indications of explosives being used, Kilpeläinen emphasized the damage required specialized knowledge and equipment, making it unlikely to be the act of an ordinary person.
The incident is a cause for concern, coming just over a year after a series of underwater blasts damaged three out of four pipelines comprising Nord Stream 1 and Nord Stream 2. These pipelines play a vital role in Russian fossil gas exports to Western Europe. Denmark, Sweden, and Germany all initiated investigations into the attacks due to the damage within their exclusive economic zones.
Finland’s response to the situation has been swift and coordinated. Authorities discovered the damage to the fossil gas pipeline and a communications cable linking the two countries on Sunday morning. Although the pipeline is expected to be out of service for several months, there is no immediate threat to Finland’s energy supply security. The country has secured its energy supply through a floating liquefied fossil gas terminal.
NATO’s secretary general, Jens Stoltenberg, has offered support and the sharing of information regarding the destruction of Finnish and Estonian underwater infrastructure.
Increased Gas Prices
Gas markets across Europe reacted with price increases. This underscores the vulnerability of gas supplies, especially for countries that have switched to more expensive liquefied fossil gas shipments after replacing Russian gas imports, The Guardian reports.
Tom Marzec-Manser, the head of gas analytics at ICIS, told The Guardian the situation should not have a “major impact on the fundamentals of Europe’s gas markets.” However, he highlighted that “there is still a lot of volatility and nervousness around.”