European countries on Tuesday sounded the alarm over a sudden leak and drop in pressure in the defunct Nord Stream 2 gas pipeline and at least two leaks in the Nord Stream 1 gas pipeline running under the Baltic Sea near Sweden and Denmark.
The Danish energy ministry said it had acted after being informed about a pressure drop in the now-defunct undersea pipeline earlier on Monday. Danish authorities have asked ships to steer clear of a five nautical mile radius off the island of Bornholm.
Operating company Nord Stream 2 AG said the drop happened overnight.
"The Nord Stream 2 landfall dispatcher registered a rapid gas pressure drop on Line A of the Nord Stream 2 natural gas pipeline," it said in a statement, adding that it was investigating the matter. The company's majority shareholder is Russia's state-owned Gazprom giant, which has been sanctioned by the West following Russia's invasion of Ukraine.
The Russian-owned Nord Stream 2 pipeline, which was intended to double the volume of gas flowing from Vyborg, Russia, under the Baltic Sea to Germany, had just been completed and filled with 300m cubic metres of gas when German Chancellor Olaf Scholz cancelled it shortly before Russia invaded Ukraine.
However, gas had already been pumped into the pipe, and there are now concerns that large amounts of it could be released into the atmosphere.
European countries have resisted Russian calls to allow Nord Stream 2 to operate and accused Moscow of using energy as a weapon. Russia denies doing so and blames the west for gas shortages.
Energy prices have soared since Moscow invaded Ukraine and scarce supplies could push up costs even further.
Neither of the two Nord Stream pipelines were pumping gas to Europe at the time leaks were found amid the dispute over the Ukraine war, but both still contained gas under pressure. The incidents will hinder any effort to start or restart either pipelline for commercial operations.