Inspenet, October 29, 2023.
Finnish authorities have identified the person allegedly responsible for the breakage of the Balticconnector gas pipeline , which connects Finland with Estonia. According to Bloomberg reports, Finland’s National Investigation Bureau has presented images at a press conference showing a six-ton anchor with one side missing, found on the seabed near the gas pipeline breach.
This anchor is attributed to the Hong Kong-flagged ship “Newnew Polar Bear”, according to Finnish authorities. Investigations are still underway to determine whether it was an accident or possible deliberate sabotage.
The incident at the Balticconnector occurred during the night of October 7 and the following day its total closure was announced due to a detected leak. However, the true cause of the pipeline’s closure was not made public until October 10, when Finland declared that it was damaged and could have been the result of an act of sabotage.
During these events, gas futures in the Dutch market, which is the reference in Europe, experienced an increase of 34.7% in the two sessions after the incident, reaching $49 per Mw/h, a level in which it still remains today.
The Government of the newly incorporated NATO member is working diligently to clarify the events that occurred that morning. With the recent experience of the Nord Stream incident, the investigation was launched under the assumption that it could have been another act of sabotage on a highly important energy infrastructure.
“The sequence of events investigated has been based on evidence and data, and it is considered that the Newnew Polar Bear ship, owned by a Chinese company and flying the Hong Kong flag, has been the cause of the damage.“, said the National Investigation Office through a statement issued after the press conference.
On the one hand, the Office has indicated that, from the location where the anchor was located, a narrow drag path has been observed that coincides in dimensions with the part that connects the anchor to the chain. In addition, marks have been identified on the anchor that suggest that it was in contact with the gas pipeline. These observations have been compared with maritime traffic data, which has served to support the main line of research that pointed towards the relationship between the Newnew Polar Bear ship and the rupture of the Balticconnector.
The Newnew Polar Bear sailed over the pipeline on the night of the incident while en route to St. Petersburg and left that city on October 10, according to information compiled by Bloomberg. According to these data, the ship has only stopped at Russian ports since its departure from Asia in September.
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