Finland: Baltic Sea gas pipeline damage probably from ‘external activity’

BRUSSELS — Damage to a gas pipeline and a communications cable in the Baltic Sea was probably caused by “external activity,” Finland’s president said Tuesday.

The Balticconnector gas pipeline, which runs between Finland and Estonia, was shut down early Sunday due to an unusual drop in pressure.

“It is likely that the damage to both the gas pipe and the communication cable is the result of external activity,” Finland’s President Sauli Niinistö said in a statement published Tuesday. “The cause of the damage is not yet clear, the investigation continues in cooperation between Finland and Estonia.”

Niinistö said his country, which recently joined NATO, was in “constant contact with our allies and partners.”

“I had a conversation with NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg today,” he said. “NATO is ready to assist in investigations.”

NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg confirmed he had been in touch with Finland’s president. “NATO is sharing information & stands ready to support Allies concerned,” he wrote on X, formerly Twitter.

Finnish Prime Minister Petteri Orpo is expected to provide more details in a news conference Tuesday.

Gasgrid Finland and Elering, the Finnish and Estonian gas system operators, announced the unusual drop in pipeline pressure on Sunday. The relevant section of pipeline was identified, valves were shut, and the leak was contained, according to Gasgrid.

In a press release published Tuesday, the company said is has started its investigation into what happened and how long it might take to repair the damage. The company and Finnish officials have stressed that Finland’s gas supply is safe.

The incident, which is still being investigated, comes more than a year after a series of underwater explosions damaged the Nord Stream pipelines built to carry natural gas from Russia to Europe.

Those explosions happened in the run-up to European winter and heightened fears of a destabilizing European gas crisis.

Though the impact on Europe was limited, the question of who was responsible has lingered, despite a series of investigations.

U.S. and European officials initially pointed to Russia. But various investigations since have challenged the easy assumption that Moscow was to blame.

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