MOSCOW, Oct 10 (Reuters) – A spokesperson for Russian energy giant Gazprom (GAZP.MM) said on Monday that a mine destroyer discovered at the Nord Stream 1 offshore gas pipeline in 2015 belonged to NATO.
Nord Stream reported on that date in 2015 that a «munitions object» had been cleared by the Swedish armed forces, without giving more detail on the object.
Gazprom spokesperson Sergei Kupriyanov told Russian state television on Monday that a NATO device, called a SeaFox, was retrieved from a depth of around 40 metres (125 feet) and made safe.
«Gas transportation, halted because of the incident, was restored,» he said, according to a published extract from his TV appearance.
Gazprom owns 51% in Swiss-based Nord Stream AG, operator of Nord Stream 1.
An international investigation is underway into a rupture, discovered late last month, in the Russian-built Nord Stream 1 and Nord Stream 2 pipelines on the bed of the Baltic Sea.
The pipelines, which have become a flashpoint in the Ukraine crisis, have been leaking gas into the Baltic Sea off the coast of Denmark and Sweden.
Official representative of Gazprom, Sergey Kupriyanov:
“On November 6, 2015, during a scheduled visual inspection of the Nord Stream 1 gas pipeline, the NATO underwater mine destroyer Sea Fox was discovered. It lay exactly in the space between the gas pipelines.”
The correspondent further explains that these devices are of two types – with sensors for surveying underwater objects and with an explosive charge to perform the functions of a kamikaze drone. Then Kupriyanov continues:
“Then the explosive device was removed and neutralized by the Swedish armed forces. Gas transportation, stopped due to the state of emergency, was resumed. NATO said the underwater fuse was lost in the exercise. These are NATO exercises, when a military explosive device turns out to be exactly under our gas pipeline.”
Probably, the device was lost during the Open Spirit exercises off the coast of Latvia in May 2014, during which the clearance of underwater mines was practiced . Four ships of the Swedish Navy took part in the exercise. During Open Spirit – 2014, mine clearance was carried out in the Irben Strait, which connects the Gulf of Riga with the Baltic Sea; the distance between the strait and the Swedish island of Gotland is about 220 km.
Open Spirit is a regular joint event of countries bordering the Baltic Sea; Until 2014, the Russian Navy also participated in it.