Gas pipeline in Lithuania damaged by explosion
Eine gas pipeline in the north of Lithuania was damaged by an explosion on Friday. According to initial findings, “no people were injured,” said the operating company Amber Grid. A nearby village was temporarily evacuated. According to the operating company, there were initially no indications of an act of sabotage, but this possibility is also being carefully examined.
Amber Grid said the explosion did not occur near residential buildings. It happened around 5 p.m. local time about five kilometers from the city of Pasvalys. The nearby village of Valakeliai was temporarily evacuated. The fire was extinguished by evening, and Valakeliai residents were able to return to their homes.
Amber Grid’s chief executive, Nemunas Biknius, said an investigation into the cause of the incident and measures to maintain gas supplies have already been launched. There is currently no indication of intentional damage, but “all possible scenarios” are being examined.
Flames 50 meters high
The gas pipeline, built in 1978, supplies natural gas to the north of Lithuania and to Latvia. It consists of two tubes, one of which was damaged by the explosion. A fire brigade official said the flames had reached a height of 50 meters.
In June 2022, Lithuania banned imports of Russian gas in order to reduce its energy dependence on Moscow in the face of the Russian war of aggression in Ukraine. After Lithuania declared its independence from the Soviet Union in 1990, the country initially remained highly dependent on Russian gas. An import terminal for liquefied natural gas (LNG) in Klaipeda on the Baltic Sea, which was inaugurated in 2014, provided a remedy.
In 2022, Lithuania commissioned a pipeline connecting the three Baltic states to the European gas network via Poland.
Explosion on anniversary of Soviet invasion attempt
Friday’s blast came on the anniversary of an attempted invasion. On January 13, 1991, Soviet troops marched across the border to reoccupy Lithuania. The attempt failed.
According to the Baltic news agency BNS, Latvian Energy Minister Raimonds Cudars said the explosion in the gas pipeline in the neighboring country had not affected natural gas supplies in Latvia. Latvian Defense Minister Artis Pabriks wrote on Twitter that the incident must be “carefully investigated” and “even sabotage cannot be ruled out”.
In September, the Nord Stream 1 and 2 gas pipelines running through the Baltic Sea between Russia and Germany were damaged by explosions. According to the Swedish public prosecutor’s office, these were acts of sabotage.