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Finnish National Bureau of Investigation: Balticconnector likely damaged by a Chinese ship

Finnish investigators reconstructed the sequence of events during the Balticconnector accident.
Balticconnector
Balticconnector gas pipeline. Map by NORSAR.
Finnish National Bureau of Investigation: Balticconnector likely damaged by a Chinese ship

The damage to the Balticconnector gas pipeline connecting Finland and Estonia was most likely caused by a Chinese vessel, according to the Finnish National Bureau of Investigation.

Risto Lohi, Detective Superintendent of the Finnish National Bureau of Investigation, said that a trace of an anchor leading to the site of the gas pipeline damage was found on the seabed. The anchor itself was raised on 24 October.

The Finnish National Bureau of Investigation reconstructed the sequence of events during the Balticconnector accident. Based on evidence and data, Finnish investigators believe the damage was caused by the Hong Kong-flagged Newnew Polar Bear ship.

The Finnish National Bureau of Investigation contacted the company that owns the Newnew Polar Bear vessel several times, but the Chinese company refused to cooperate. Finland has initiated an international investigation with the participation of Chinese authorities.

The further investigation will pay particular attention to whether there was any intent or negligence in the sequence of events, the Finnish National Bureau of Investigation stated.

On 8 October, the Balticconnector pipeline was shut down due to fears that gas leaked from a hole in the 77-kilometer gas pipeline. According to the Finnish operator Gasgrid, the pipeline repair could take many months.

Balticconnector is a gas pipeline and telecommunications cable connecting two NATO countries, Finland and Estonia, under the Baltic Sea. Balticconnector was opened in December 2019. The length of its underwater part from the port city of Paldiski on the Pakri Peninsula of northwestern Estonia to Inkoo in Finland is 77 kilometers.

Balticconnector ensures gas transportation between Finland, Estonia, and Latvia, helping these EU and NATO countries reduce local markets’ dependence on Russian gas.

In a phone conversation between NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg and the President of Finland, Sauli Niinistö, the Finnish President said that the Balticconnector pipeline had been damaged due to external influence.

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