Russia may demand compensation over Nord Stream pipeline explosions - diplomat

Gas leak at Nord Stream 2 as seen from the Danish F-16 interceptor on Bornholm, Denmark September 27, 2022. Danish Defence Command/Forsvaret Ritzau Scanpix/via REUTERS

MOSCOW (Reuters) -Moscow may seek compensation over damage from last year's explosions on the Nord Stream gas pipelines, news agency RIA Novosti reported on Monday, citing a Russian diplomat, who also said that the future of the projects was unknown.

The pipelines, which connect Russia and Germany under the Baltic Sea, were hit by unexplained blasts last September in what Moscow called an act of international terrorism.

"We do not rule out the later raising of the issue of compensation for damage as a result of the explosion of the Nord Stream gas pipelines," Dmitry Birichevsky, the head of Russia's Foreign Ministry department for economic cooperation, said in an interview with the news agency.

He did not say from whom Russia would seek damages over the incidents at the pipelines, which were jointly able to export 110 billion cubic metres (bcm) of gas per year, more than Russia's total gas exports of 101 bcm outside the former Soviet Union in 2022.

Birichevsky also said the future of the pipelines was not clear.

"At the moment, it's very difficult to speak about the future of the Nord Stream pipelines system. On the whole, according to experts, the damaged lines could be restored," he said.

The Kremlin has said it was for all shareholders to decide whether the Nord Stream pipelines should be mothballed.

Sources familiar with the plans told Reuters last week that the ruptured Nord Stream 1 and Nord Stream 2 pipelines, built by Russia's state-controlled Gazprom, were set to be sealed up and mothballed as there were no immediate plans to repair or reactivate them.

Nord Stream 1 had started operations in November 2011 having cost 7.4 billion euros ($8 billion). Construction of the $11 billion Nord Stream 2 was completed in September 2021, but it never entered into operations after Germany shunned the project days before Russia sent troops into Ukraine on Feb. 24, 2022.

Birichevsky added that Western countries were opposing a Russia-prepared draft U.N. Security Council resolution urging an independent international investigation of the Nord Stream blasts.

"Despite this, we intend to continue to insist on a comprehensive and open international investigation with the mandatory participation of Russian representatives," Birichevsky said.

($1 = 0.9289 euros)

(Reporting by Reuters; Editing by Jamie Freed and Alex Richardson)

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