Three leaks in the Nord Stream pipelines have sent gas into the Baltic sea, with safety concerns leading to a five-mile exclusion zone being imposed around the affected area.
The EU said yesterday that the leaks were caused by sabotage – but stopped short of directly accusing Russia.
Agents at the US intelligence agency sent a “strategic warning” to nations, including Germany, this summer about a possible attack.
The warning was not specific and did not pinpoint a time or location for an attack, reports suggested.
European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen called the leaks an “act of sabotage”.
She said: “Any deliberate disruption of active European energy infrastructure is unacceptable and will lead to the strongest possible response.”
European Union foreign policy chief Josep Borrell added: “All available information indicates those leaks are the result of a deliberate act.”
“Any deliberate disruption of European energy infrastructure is utterly unacceptable and will be met with a robust and united response.”
The operators of Nord Stream 2 warned of a loss of pressure in the pipeline on Monday afternoon.
On Tuesday, the operator of Nord Stream 1 said the undersea lines had simultaneously sustained “unprecedented” damage in one day.
Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov dismissed suggestions yesterday it was to blame as “predictable and also predictably stupid.”
He said: “This is a big problem for us because, firstly, both lines of Nord Stream 2 are filled with gas – the entire system is ready to pump gas and the gas is very expensive. Now the gas is flying off into the air.”
Russia’s state-run energy giant Gazprom warned it could cut flows of natural gas to Europe via Ukraine, its last link still delivering to buyers in western Europe.
European Union countries were at odds yesterday (WED) over whether to cap gas prices in the bloc.
A group of 15 countries including France, Italy, Spain and Poland urged the Commission to propose a price cap on all wholesale gas transactions to help rein in surging prices.
The attack on the gas pipelines caused natural gas prices to jump once again in Europe.
Neither pipeline is currently carrying gas to Europe but a certain level of supplies remains inside the infrastructure.
Prof Piers Forster, director of the Priestley International Centre for Climate at the University of Leeds, said: “Methane leaked rather than burnt is around 30 times worse for climate.”
“The leak will have a strong immediate warming effect and cause poor air quality as well. Compared to the daily leaks in the poorly maintained gas network all around the globe it will be small though.”
A video released by Denmark’s armed forces showed gas bubbles rushing to the Baltic Sea surface above the Nord Stream 1 and 2.
Professor Joan Cordiner, Professor of Process Engineering at the University of Sheffield, said such a sudden large leak can only have come from a “sudden blow cutting the pipe”.
In 2021, imports from Russia made up four percent of gas used in the UK, nine percent of oil and 27 percent of coal.
But the European Union imported 155 billion cubic metres of natural gas from Russia in 2021, accounting for around 45 percent of EU gas imports and close to 40 percent of its total gas consumption.