Finland has announced that the damage to their underwater natural gas pipeline with Estonia on Sunday may have been intentional and was caused by ‘external activity’. As a result of a sudden drop in pressure, the Baltic-connector pipeline was shut down and a telecoms cable was also damaged.
The Prime Minister of Finland Petteri Orpo stated on Tuesday that the origin of the leak had been discovered, and both countries are conducting an investigation.
Suspicion has fallen on Russian sabotage as “retribution” for Finland joining NATO in April this year and echoes last year’s explosions in the Baltic Sea, which destroyed the twin Nord Stream pipelines that connected Germany to Russia.
Finland, which shares a 1,300km border with Russia, became the latest member of the military alliance in April, upending decades of non-aligned status after Moscow’s full-scale invasion of Ukraine.
NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg said NATO was sharing its information over the damage and stands ready to support the allies concerned.
Gasgrid Finland and Estonia’s Elering, the system operators, reported a sudden drop in pipeline pressure around 02:00 EET on Sunday morning, which prompted them to shut down the gas flow.
Gasgrid Finland suspected a possible offshore pipeline leak based on observations and stated that the leak has been stopped after closing the valves in the offshore pipeline. The incident is currently under investigation by Gasgrid Finland and Elering, and no reason has been given for the suspected leak.
In addition, Gasgrid Finland stated that repairing any damage caused to the pipeline could take several months, depending on the extent of the damage. This was stated before President Niinistö’s Tuesday afternoon comments.