UN Security Council calls for independent investigation into Nord Stream pipeline leaks

Ruptures in system have led to what is probably the biggest single release of climate-damaging methane ever recorded

Russian ambassador to the UN Vassily Nebenzia attends a UN Security Council meeting to discuss the Nord Stream pipeline leaks. AFP
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The UN Security Council on Friday called for an independent investigation into major leaks in the Nord Stream gas pipeline suspected to have been caused by an “act of sabotage”.

US deputy ambassador to the UN Richard Mills told council members efforts to investigate the leaks in the pipeline system, which is located in the Baltic Sea, are under way and reaffirmed Washington's support for European efforts to conduct the probe.

“It could take time, but the search for the truth will not be rushed. It's important that we first establish the facts,” said Mr Mills.

Russia’s UN envoy Vassily Nebenzia emphasised that carrying out sabotage of “such complexity and scale is beyond the power of ordinary terrorists”.

“This is an attack that could hardly have happened without the involvement of state or state-controlled actors,” he said.

“We will certainly identify all those involved in this act.”

During the council meeting, Mr Nebenzia addressed his American counterpart directly, asking if the US could confirm “right now” and “in this chamber” that it was not involved in “this act of sabotage.”

Mr Mills replied: “If there’s any country perhaps that has a record of doing the kind of thing we are discussing here today, it isn’t the United States.”

Both Denmark and Sweden informed the UN Security Council in a letter on Thursday that the Nord Stream pipeline leaks were caused by blasts equal to “several hundred of kilos of explosives”.

Nord Stream 1 was a major route for Russian gas supplies to Europe before Moscow reduced and finally halted the operation after relations with the West soured following the Kremlin’s invasion of Ukraine in February.

Germany cancelled the launch of Nord Stream 2 days before the invasion began.

The ruptures on the Nord Stream pipeline system have led to what is likely to be the biggest single release of climate-damaging methane ever recorded, the UN Environment Programme said.

“This is really bad, most likely the largest emission event ever detected,” Manfredi Caltagirone, acting head of the programme's International Methane Emissions Observatory, told Reuters.

“This is not helpful in a moment when we absolutely need to reduce emissions.”

Researchers have not yet been able to quantify the amount of methane leaking from the pipelines, but believe the rate of emissions is higher than that which occurred during a major leak at an offshore oil and gas platform in the Gulf of Mexico in December, which spilt about 100 metric tonnes of methane per hour, Mr Caltagirone said.

Updated: September 30, 2022, 11:05 PM