| 13 April 2024, Saturday |

Explosion occurs at gas pipeline between Lithuania and Latvia; no immediate evidence of attack found

A gas pipeline exploded between Lithuania and Latvia. While no immediate evidence of the attack was found after an initial assessment, the “investigation will cover all possible options”, said the Lithuanian gas transmission operator Amber Grid. A video posted by the local media shows fire raging at the blast site in northern Lithuania’s Panevezys County, near the Latvian border. However, it has since been put out by the firefighters who immediately arrived on the scene, said the gas company, in a statement.

The Chief Executive of Amber Grid, Nemunas Biknius, addressing the media, ruled out the possibility of sabotage and also said, “We do not see the signs of any potential impact from outside.” He also confirmed that the supply of gas was cut off, at first, after the blast as it damaged one of the two parallel pipelines sending gas to Latvia but was restored hours later. Reports suggest that the repair work on the damaged pipeline will begin on Saturday.

Meanwhile, the Latvian energy minister, Raimonds Cudars, said that the explosion has so far not affected the country’s natural gas supplies and was informed that the reason for the explosion was a technical accident, as per local media reports. According to the Baltic news agency BNS, the flames initially rose at least 50 metres in the air and were seen from a distance of at least 17 kilometres, but no injuries or fatalities were reported.

However, Latvia’s Defence Minister, Artis Pabriks, took to Twitter and said that the incident must be carefully evaluated and that the possibility of sabotage cannot be ruled out. On the other hand, Amber Grid’s Biknius, on Friday also said that the pipeline which is over four decades old recently had gone under some maintenance work and the officials are also working to determine if that contributed to the blast.

He added, “All reasons will be investigated and clarified in the coming days”. This comes months after the Nord Stream gas pipelines from Russia to Germany were destroyed by undersea explosions amid the ongoing conflict between Moscow and Ukraine. Notably, the pipeline carries gas from Lithuania’s port of Klaipeda to Latvia.

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