Nord Stream, the Gazprom-led operator of the Nord Stream 1 gas export pipeline from Russia to Germany, has discovered what it describes as two "technogenic craters" on the seabed next to the pipeline.

Nord Stream's announcement follows a mission into the Swedish maritime zone that the operator commissioned after reportedly receiving refusals from Sweden to share results of that country's its own initial investigation.

The two strings of Nord Stream 1 together with the first string of Nord Stream 2 were damaged by explosions near the Danish island of Bornholm in the Baltic Sea at the end of September, leading to the violent escape of highly pressurised gas to the sea surface.

"According to preliminary results of the damage site inspection, technogenic craters with a depth of three to five metres were found on the seabed at a distance of about 248 metres from each other," Nord Steam said.

Nord Stream's use of "technogenic" to describe the craters suggests it believes they were caused by manmade technology.

"The section of the pipe between the craters has been destroyed. The radius of pipe fragments dispersion is at least 250 metres. Experts continue to analyse the survey data," the company added.

The operator has not responded to an Upstream inquiry as to whether the survey will continue in the Danish maritime zone where the escape of gas from the second string of Nord Stream 1 was observed, albeit at a smaller scale.

Nor has Nord Stream said whether it has received permission from the Danish authorities for Russian-owned offshore supply ship Nefrit to proceed to the second incident site.

According to maritime tracking services, Nefrit has remained stationary in the Swedish zone at time of publication.

The Nord Stream 1 incident area is patrolled by three Nato military vessels. However, no vessels are seen around the incident site on the first string of the Nord Stream 2 pipeline to the southeast of Bornholm, according to maritime traffic data.

Russian finger-pointing

Nord Stream's latest statement is in line with most recent pronouncements from Russian President Vladimir Putin at a press conference in the country’s southern city of Sochi on Tuesday.

Putin also talked about two craters but added that a “40-metre pipe fragment is missing” at the incident site. This fragment most likely also hit a nearby string of the Nord Stream 2 pipeline as it had been expelled by the underwater explosion, he suggested.

Putin again denied suggestions of any Russian connection with the pipeline explosions. However, on Tuesday he stopped short of reiterating his prior accusations against the US and European countries.

This past weekend, Russia’s Ministry of Defence made claimed, without presenting any evidence, that the Royal Navy was behind the attacks on the Nord Stream 1 & 2 pipelines.

“To detract from their disastrous handling of the illegal invasion of Ukraine, the Russian Ministry of Defence is resorting to peddling false claims of an epic scale,” the UK government said in response.

On Tuesday, Putin again argued for a Gazprom’s plan to lay additional gas pipelines across the Black Sea to Turkey, diverting Russian gas that used to flow via Nord Stream 1, to this country so it may act as a gas distribution hub for European nations.

Gazprom's data shows that failure to ship gas to Europe via Nord Stream 1 and diminishing volumes through the legacy route in Ukraine caused the company's gas production to decline to 344 billion cubic metres between January and October, down 19% compared with the same period of 2021.

Gas exports by Gazprom fell by almost 43% to 91.2 Bcm, the company said in a statement.