The Baltica, the pipeline that transports gas between Finland and the Baltic states, was damaged in mid-October. As a result, gas supplies had to be stopped. Two communications cables near the pipe were also damaged. One of these cables extends from Sweden to Estonia.
According to the Bureau of Investigation, the vessel NewNew Polar Bear, operating under the Hong Kong flag, was sailing near the damaged site when the pressure in the pipe was cut off. A company spokesperson said: “We will work with Chinese authorities to determine the ship’s possible involvement.”
The ship NewNew Polar Bear is a container ship sailing on the Northern Sea Route between China and Europe. A Russian nuclear-powered cargo ship was also in the area at the time of the damage, according to ship data examined by Reuters news agency.
The Estonian government said on Friday that it was certain that the pipeline was damaged by human activity, but it was uncertain whether it was an intentional act of sabotage or just an accident. Finland and Estonia previously announced that the damage was caused by an “external factor.”
Help from NATO
The incident increases concerns about the safety of energy infrastructure in the northern region. After discovering the leak, Finland requested assistance from NATO. Surveillance of critical infrastructure – oil and gas pipelines and power plants – has also been strengthened in Finland and Norway.
The technical investigation into the damage to the Baltic Connector was completed this week. Divers found, among other things, a “heavy object” on the seabed near the damaged pipe. The research team wants to recover the body from the sea to see if it has anything to do with the damage.
Last September, three Nord Stream gas pipelines were sabotaged with explosives elsewhere in the Baltic Sea, causing them to stop operating. The affected parts are located outside the territorial waters of Sweden and Denmark. It remains a mystery who is behind this. There are indications that a team of Ukrainian divers carried out the operation.
The 77-kilometre-long Baltic Connector lies on the sea floor of the Gulf of Finland, part of the Baltic Sea, and extends from Enko, Finland, to Paldiski, Estonia. The eastern part of this water area used by many ships is located in Russia. The pipeline has been operating since 2020 and transports gas in both directions according to supply and demand. Repair work will take several months.
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