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On the night of September 26, at the end of the calm season in the Baltic Sea, a kilometer-wide boiling wheel shook the face of the sea, and a huge mass of methane was released into the air. The gas formed a cloud which crossed Europewhich is believed to be the largest single release of this potent greenhouse gas ever recorded.


This was caused by four ruptures of Russia’s Nord Stream 1 and 2 gas pipelines, located in or near the territorial seas of Denmark and Sweden. Seismologists detected explosions at a depth of 70-90 meters on the seabed. These were not earthquakes.

Authorities in Denmark, Sweden and Germany said the bombings were deliberate. is equivalent the use of 500 kilograms of TNT.

The turbulent surface of the Baltic is a vivid visual image of fossil fuel consumption that is changing the world’s climate. Methane has more than 25 times global warming effect equivalent to the amount of carbon dioxide and is a critical target for combating climate change.

It also highlights the vulnerability of subsea pipelines and subsea infrastructure in general, of which there is a significant network in Australia.

Useless emissions

The explosions had no direct economic and energy consequences. Nord Stream 1 stopped working in early September after a gradual reduction in supplies over the summer.

Nord Stream 2 was never launched Germany refused certify it after the Russian invasion of Ukraine. Europe did not count on the restoration of supplies from either side pipeline.

While the pipelines did not carry gas, they did contain methane to maintain pressure.

The amount of gas released is difficult to determine. Estimates indicate that approximately 300,000 tons of methane (or the equivalent of 7.5 million tons of carbon) were likely released into the atmosphere, making this the largest methane release from a single event (and more than double the Aliso Canyon 2015 Leak in California).

This tonnage is about 10% of Germany’s annual methane production, or one-third of Denmark’s total annual gas emissions, or the equivalent of the annual carbon emissions of one million cars. Nord Stream, however, is a wasteful discharge with no social benefit or productivity gain.

The leak is a reminder of the “fugitive” methane problem, which involves leakage, loss, leakage and release of gas from operating or abandoned industrial facilities.

While emissions from beef and rice production are the primary culprits of direct emissions, oil and gas facilities also leak significant amounts of methane, as do activities such as fracking, coal mining, and oil production. CSIRO estimates The global oil and gas industry emits 69 to 88 million tons of methane annually.

Australia’s underwater infrastructure network

Critical underwater infrastructure plays a vital role in the global economy. For example, the fiber optic cable network is the invisible lifeblood of globalization, consisting of about 1.1 million kilometers of cables that transmit 99% of the world’s data.

When we talk about data flows and digital goods, we essentially mean the transmission of messages through these submarine cables. The stability of Art global economy and the wealth of multinational corporations depends on the integrity of these cables and the uninterrupted communication they provide.

They form underwater pipelines that deliver oil and gas from one country or state to another material basis energy markets. Australia’s offshore energy pipelines include 740 km of pipelines Tasmanian Gas Pipeline300 km of which is under the sea, as well as Gorgona (140 km), Scarborough (280 km), Pluto (180 km), Brows (400 km) and many others.

Submarine power cables are a rapidly evolving infrastructure. Underwater and underground are offered Marinus power cable will link Tasmania and Victoria.

Using the potential of offshore wind (now one of the largest investment in energy around the world) is implemented in Australian projects such as The star of the south. meanwhile, Sun Cable strives to deliver renewable energy produced in Australia to Singapore via a 4,200km submarine cable.

Although speculative in nature, such projects represent aspects of a green energy revolution that will reduce emissions and is likely to become more widespread. Ensuring these systems are resilient against malicious digital and physical threats is a priority.

System failures and hostile agents

The dependence of society and the economy on the reliability of this infrastructure is underestimated.

Integration between cables and pipelines and national and international markets their maintenance is so tight that even the slightest failure can cause disproportionate economic damage.

These systems are so complex and tightly integrated that their failures have consequences that cross physical and national borders. This presents a significant challenge for ocean infrastructure management.

System failure can occur because cables and pipelines are susceptible to accidental damage by ship anchors, trawl fishing nets, and other underwater activities such as dredging. As the Nord Stream incident shows, they are also vulnerable to deliberate hostile attacks, both physical and cyber.

Enemy agents can exploit the fact that the sea is an opaque realm in which it is difficult to operate and defend. It therefore provides an effective shield against detection and subsequent prosecution.

Nord Stream was attacked in one of the busiest places most subject to surveillance seas of the world—Baltic, art closeness to the Danish military base on the island of Bornholm. This clearly shows the vulnerability of underwater infrastructure: it allows attackers to approach targets undetected.

Cables and pipelines are regulated by both national and international legislation. However, security gaps exist in international waters, where responsibility is divided between corporations and governments.

The lack of clarity gives companies little incentive to invest in security or cooperate with the government, increasing their vulnerability to attack.

Privatization of cables and pipelines led to cost effective methods adopted to reduce operating costs. But this was achieved by reducing maintenance and surveillance.

Underwater infrastructure will continue to be vital to global trade and social cohesion. The increasing demand for bandwidth and the need for energy security make cables and pipelines more important and more vulnerable. Nord Stream highlights the need for sustainable systems to limit the risk of accidents and gives more impetus to the transition from fossil to renewable energy sources.


Nord Stream Leaks Less Methane Than Estimated: Atmospheric Monitoring


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