Moscow – An explosion during repairs on a section of a natural gas pipeline destined for Europe in western Russia killed three people on Tuesday, officials said, but did not affect export supplies.
The explosion occurred on a section of the Urengoy-Pomari-Uzhhorod pipeline in the Chuvashia region during repair work. The regional authorities said three repair workers were killed and another wounded in the blast, which ignited a column of gas.
The pipeline that originates in a gas field in Siberia and crosses Ukraine Its route to Europe is one of the main routes for Russian gas exports to the European Union.
Chuvashia’s governor, Oleg Nikolaev, said in televised remarks that it was not immediately clear how long it would take to repair the section of the pipeline cut by the explosion. The regional branch of the Russian natural gas giant, Gazprom, said gas transport volumes were not affected by the explosion as supplies were rerouted along parallel lines.
The pipeline crossing Ukraine has become the main conduit for Russian natural gas supplies to Europe since an explosion in the Nord Stream 1 and 2 pipelines under the Baltic Sea occurred in September, causing severe damage.
Investigators in Sweden found traces of explosives at a site on the Baltic Sea where two natural gas pipelines were damaged in an act of “gross sabotage”, but stopped short of assigning blame.
Russian President Vladimir Putin has accused the West of blowing up the pipelines and singled out the United States as benefiting from attacks on Europe’s energy infrastructure, while some European and other Nordic media have alleged Moscow’s involvement.
Nord Stream 1 carried Russian gas to Germany until Moscow cut off supplies at the end of August, citing equipment problems. German officials dismissed this explanation as a cover for a political decision to raise prices and create uncertainty.
Nord Stream 2 never entered service as Germany suspended its certification process shortly before Russia sent troops into Ukraine in February.
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