Russian cargo ship spent weekend in vicinity of Balticconnector pipeline leak

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SVG-FLOT in 2015.
SVG-FLOT in 2015. Source: Orion/

Shipping traffic site Marine Traffic determined that Russian cargo ship SVG Flot spent the last weekend in the vicinity of the leak of the Balticconnector natural gas pipeline linking Estonia and Finland. The pipeline experienced a drop in pressure on Sunday.

Marine Traffic found that the Russian vessel was in the vicinity of where the pipeline was damaged between Friday evening and Sunday night. The Balticconnector pipeline experienced a leak the night before Sunday.

Marine Traffic monitors maritime traffic all over the world. It may not detect all ships as some vessels might have their transponders switched off.

Norwegian seismologists detected a possible explosion near the Balticconnector at 1:20 a.m.

Norsar said Wednesday that the explosion it detected could have been caused by 100 kilograms of TNT equivalent. The organization also said that the seismic event it detected was not caused by an earthquake but may have been caused by an anchor hitting the pipeline.

Commodore Jüri Saska, commander of the Estonian Navy, told ERR Tuesday that after looking at the damage caused to the Balitcconnector, it seems something raked the pipeline from one side.

The 77-kilometer underwater pipeline connects Paldiski, Estonia and Inkoo, Finland. It was launched in 2020 and construction cost over €300 million.

Vessel anchored due to bad weather

Finnish newspaper Helsingin Sanomat (HS) contacted the SVG Flot's owner, Russian company Baltic Fuel Company, on Tuesday. 

Mihail Kasatkin, head of the commercial department, told HS the ship stayed in the area for two days waiting for bad weather conditions to pass.

"If you look at the weather data, the wind was blowing 25-30 meters per second. The waves were up to three meters high," he said. "The ship was there for a couple of days and then moved on."

Kassatkin also said the ship is over 40 years old.

A strong storm did hit the region over the weekend.

Sea captain considers explanation plausible

Sea captain and doctoral student at the Finnish Meteorological Institute Mikko Heikkilä said the explanation is plausible.

It is common for ships to remain at sea in difficult weather and wait for the weather to improve, he said.

"Over the weekend, the wind blew from the northeast, making the northern Gulf of Finland quite shaded. But if you go from there to the northern basin of the Baltic Sea, you get rough waves."


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Editor: Karl Kivil, Marcus Turovski, Helen Wright

Source: Helsingin Sanomat

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