STOCKHOLM: A fourth leak has been detected in undersea gas pipelines linking Russia to Europe, the Swedish Coast Guard said on Thursday, after explosions were reported earlier this week in suspected sabotage.
“There are two leaks on the Swedish side and two leaks on the Danish side,” a Swedish Coast Guard official said, after three leaks were confirmed earlier this week on the Nord Stream pipelines in the Baltic Sea.
According to the official, the two leaks on the Swedish side — one on Nord Stream 1 and a smaller one on Nord Stream 2 — were about one nautical mile from each other (1.8 kilometers or 1.15 miles).
The coast guard said it had been aware of the leak since Tuesday, but could not immediately explain why it had not previously been reported.
Swedish authorities previously reported a leak on the Nord Stream 1 pipeline northeast of the Danish island of Bornholm.
Meanwhile, Denmark has confirmed a leak on Nord Stream 2 to the southeast of the island and another to the northeast above Nord Stream 1.
The vast leaks have caused underwater gas plumes, with significant bubbling at the surface of the sea several hundred meters wide, making it impossible to immediately inspect the structures.
A Swedish Coast Guard search-and-rescue vessel was patrolling the area.
“The crew reports that the flow of gas visible on the surface is constant,” the agency said in a statement.
Suspicions of sabotage emerged after the leaks were detected.
Russia denied it was behind the explosions, as did the United States, which said Moscow’s suggestion it would damage the pipeline was “ridiculous.”
Speaking on Wednesday before the fourth leak was reported, Swedish Prime Minister Magdalena Andersson said it would have taken a large explosive device to cause the damage.
The United Nations Security Council will meet on Friday to discuss the matter.
Nord Stream 1 and 2, which link Russia to Germany, have been at the center of geopolitical tensions in recent months as Russia cut gas supplies to Europe in suspected retaliation against Western sanctions following Moscow’s invasion of Ukraine on February 24.
While the pipelines — operated by a consortium majority-owned by Russian gas giant Gazprom — are not currently in operation, they both still contain gas.