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Was the Catastrophic Rupture of the Nord Steam 2 Pipeline an Accident or Sabotage?

Was the Catastrophic Rupture of the Nord Steam 2 Pipeline an Accident or Sabotage?

A look at the chemistry of methane hydrates and pipeline process safety issues.

There has been a tremendous amount of speculation about the cause of the rupture of Russia’s Nordstream 2 underwater pipeline, which resulted in a release of gas bubbles half a mile wide that rose to the Baltic Sea’s surface near the Danish island of Bornholm.

Fingers are pointed in many directions.

Speculation has pointed to Russia, whose state-controlled energy company, Gazprom, is the main owner of the pipelines. A spokesman for President Vladimir V. Putin of Russia, Dmitri S. Peskov, dismissed allegations of Russian involvement as “stupid” and pointed a finger at the United States.

The situation bears the hallmarks of a spy thriller. But analysts say that damaging the pipelines could be a significant escalation in the proxy energy war that has been waged since fighting began in Ukraine — a battle that could have serious consequences for millions of homes and businesses throughout Europe. Indeed, whoever damaged the pipelines may have meant to show Europeans that “nowhere is safe,” said Helima Croft, the head of commodity strategy at RBC Capital Markets.

…Construction was completed last year on the second line, Nord Stream 2, which was intended to double those flows, providing a big, modern line into northwest Europe. But it never became fully operational: The German government shelved the project in February, just as Russia began to invade Ukraine.

And while there is plenty of finger-pointing and blame-placing, perhaps it is worthwhile considering that the rupture was an accident. A recent post by “The Law Dog Files” caught my eye, suggesting it may have been an accidental rupture. Because the pipeline was not fully operational, one must consider the idea, especially since the cold ocean waters of the Baltic are one of the many places on Earth that allow for the generation of “methane hydrates.”

However, in this case involving a natural gas pipeline under the pressure of 300 to 360 feet (8 atmospheres to 10 atm.) of water, I’d like you to turn your eyes towards a fun little quirk of nature called “methane hydrates”.

Well, actually, I’d like you to meditate upon “hydrate plug”, but give me a moment.

Under certain circumstances of pressure, temperature, and water presence natural gas/methane will form solid hydrates, with concomitant amounts of fun.

Legal Insurrection readers are already familiar with methane hydrates, which may have contributed to the “Great Dying” of the Permian Extinction discussed in my post about mass extinctions.

There are several possible explanations: Asteroid strike, a massive eruption of lava that formed the enormous Siberian Traps, and the release methane from the methane-hydrate formations deep under the ocean.

I want to expand a bit on the chemistry. Methane hydrates are fire-and-ice, as the explosive methane molecule becomes caged within water molecules at the high pressures at the bottom of the oceans. These compounds form along continental shelves, with organic-rich deposits flowing from the adjacent lands into the region.

These hydrates form plugs in pipelines.

Hydrates cause safety problems for two reasons :

  • Upon removal, when hydrate plugs are depressurized improperly, with large pressure gradients across the plug, hydrate projectiles frequently erupt from pipes
  • When hydrates are heated, large confined pressure increases cause pipe rupture

The most common way to remove a hydrate plug from a flow channel is by depressurization. Flow is stopped, and the line is slowly depressurized from both ends of the plug. At atmospheric pressure, the hydrate stability temperature is invariably less than that of the surroundings, so heat flows from the environment into the hydrate plug. The plug melts radially inward, detaching first at the pipe wall.

Any pressure gradient across the detached plug causes it to act like a projectile…. with measured plug velocities up to 180 miles/hr for short distances. The hydrate has the density of ice, almost twice that of the surrounding fluid, so at the line velocity, the plug momentum is twice that of the surrounding fluids. When the hydrate projectile encounters an obstruction or change in flow direction, such as a pipe elbow, bend, or valve, the resulting impact or pressure increase frequently causes line rupture, equipment damage, fire, and potential injury or loss of life.

Process safety for pipelines like Nord Steam 2 involves a lot of inspections and maintenance. Given that the Russians who perform this work are drafted to fight in Ukraine, and the pipelines shut down, how likely is it that anyone performed the inspections and maintenance?

It would be great if the situation did not escalate to a robust conflict between nuclear powers….especially if the catastrophic failure of the pipeline was an accident.

For those interested in hard-core chemistry, here is a talk at the Scripps Institute of Oceanography.


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taurus the judge | October 3, 2022 at 7:10 am

In all truth,

without a detailed analysis of the damaged area, it is impossible to know for certain ( and the distinct possibility that any affirmative evidence either way may be lost given the location of the damage under water).

Personally, I’m open to either one at this point but leaning toward a maintenance or design related failure just based on my experience so call it about 51-49.

    NGAREADER in reply to taurus the judge. | October 3, 2022 at 6:07 pm

    An interesting theory but doesn’t pass the smell test.
    I would also suspect that most intelligence services have a good idea or absolute knowledge of what happened but have some reason for not already telling the real story.
    That means we mere mortals are not likely to get the unvarnished truth anytime soon.

      NotCoach in reply to NGAREADER. | October 4, 2022 at 10:13 am

      You have far more confidence than I do in our intelligence services. Let us wait and see what a physical inspection of the failure points tell us. If the points are exploded outward then that would seem to point to an internal failure, not an explosive.

Chemistry is all well and good, but what about math?

What is the probability of two distinct pipelines destroying themselves exactly the same way within mere minutes of one another… without someone explicitly causing it?

    jaudio in reply to henrybowman. | October 3, 2022 at 7:31 am

    My question exactly. If it had been one explosion, then I’d probably think it was more an accident than purposeful. I’m with you….I need to know more, but one thing is certain…..forensic mechanical engineers, metallurgists, and explosion experts would easily be able to determine if the explosion began from the inside of the pipe or the outside of the pipe. Recovery efforts will happen once there is no more gas coming out….we should have this answer before Christmas…..I wonder who is leading this?

      dwb in reply to jaudio. | October 3, 2022 at 7:53 am

      It will never be investigated. No one will want to admit incompetence.

        Gosport in reply to dwb. | October 3, 2022 at 9:05 am

        The problem is, investigated by whom? The conspiracy theories and accusations of guilt flew thick and it would seem there isn’t an agency who would be trusted by all to do such an investigation.

        Sadly, once upon a time the US would fill that role.

    livefreeorpie1791 in reply to henrybowman. | October 3, 2022 at 7:33 am

    Chemistry relies heavily on math. In fact, it’s all algebra and calculus. The answer to your question depends on some variables, IF the pipes consisted of the same material, contained the same substances, were constructed the same way, were in substantially the same location or were subjected to the same or virtually identical environmental conditions, THEN i would say the probability is quite high.

      “THEN i would say the probability is quite high.”

      How about the probability of a nuclear exchange between US and Russia?

        Barry in reply to MrPeabody. | October 4, 2022 at 12:11 am

        Really low. The russians do not wish to die, and they know our nukes work, They also know that thrier nukes are suspect at best.

        We had a cold war with no nuclear exchange for a reason, and the bit with Ukraine pales in comparison to what went on during the nearly half century of cold war.

        Y’all let the pussy putin scare you for no reason.

      “quite high” would be about one chance in 557 Octillion, if you were to do the math. Please keep in mind that each set of pipes were blown in 3 separate places. The explosions were measured in tons of TNT. The EU is sure that it was a “state actor”.

      An accident is not on the table.

        henrybowman in reply to InEssence. | October 4, 2022 at 3:29 am

        And since I wrote this question, I learned that FOUR pipes were blown up — not two.

        “Mr Bond, they have a saying in Chicago: ‘Once is happenstance. Twice is coincidence. The third time it’s enemy action’.”

        What’s four times?

          NotCoach in reply to henrybowman. | October 4, 2022 at 10:15 am

          One wonders about alternatives methods to explosives in intentionally damaging the pipelines. If methane plugs existed wouldn’t a sudden depressurization at one end or the other possibly cause this?

    Four explosions with the force of half a ton of TNT. Simultaneously exploding. Brand new pipelines. N1 had been operating for awhile. Exploding at the very same moment. With coordinated global efforts well on their way to destroy the fossil fuel industry. What better time to trip the switch. Hmmm…. That would be one hell of a coincidence.

    My lifelong study of duck behavior makes me a conspiracy theorist on this one.

    Voyager in reply to henrybowman. | October 3, 2022 at 10:31 am

    From what I’m seeing, the NS1 blast, and the part where NS1 and 2 were adjacent happened around the same time, but the other NS2 explosion happened 17 hours after the first set. Also all four happened at bends in the pipeline.

    Also, it looks like NS2 was full of standing methane, which, according to people who know the subject, absolutely bonkers. You would normally run dry nitrogen.

    On the energy of methane, it look like methane actually has more explosive energy per ton than TNT, so it appears to take roughly 200m^3 of methane to reach a 4 tons of TNT grade explosion. Each pipe should be able to run about 25m cubic meters per year, so that would be about 3.7 minutes of pipe delivery. Given we’re talking about a rupture, I could see that dumping that much gas at once. Remember when PG&E blew up that subdivision? Same sort of thing. People initially though a plane had crashed because of the blast.

    gospace in reply to henrybowman. | October 3, 2022 at 12:13 pm

    Well, actually, the odds are pretty good if they’re in the same circumstances. And they are.

    Industry: “That accident was a fluke. What’s the chance it could happen again?”
    Analyst: “100% if you do the same things.”

      BierceAmbrose in reply to georgfelis. | October 3, 2022 at 4:13 pm


      The odds against 2, 3, or 4 similar explosions get higher with miore *independent events.” Correlated events don’t play out that way. With these pipeline, same construction; same materials; same maintenance, same operations, same external conditions — maybe if one goes, it means the others are gonna go the same way. Better duck.

      The Great Mortgage Bond Crash of 2008-ish happened in part because the probability math of those bonds treated the mortgages within them as *uncorrelated* — one failing means nothing about odds of any other failing — when these mortgages were correlated, and became more so as that housing boom progressed. Within the finance system, mortgages defaulted, the bonds collapsed, leverage on the bonds collapsed worse, speculation wasn’t walled off from investment wasn’t walled off from banking. There were similar domino chains in the actual economy, and in govt spending and fiscal policy.

      Prior similar bonds were built on other assets, in the event uncorrelated so the probabilities worked as advertised. Or less correlated, so worked closer to as advertised.

      There is a hilarious-if-true tale that David Bowie is the origin story for this kind of instrument: turn the revenue stream from a bundle of assets into a bond that you can sell for cash, now. He famously made the revenue streams from his works into bonds, sold for cash. Bowie got piles of money now, to live his rock star life with. Somebody who plays with money got a revenue stream over time.

      If true, Ziggy Stardust (and the Spiders from Mars) caused the great crash of 2008 by sabotaging the financial system by injecting a new, poisonous form of asset that blew up eventually, after they were well clear. Scrumptious.

        henrybowman in reply to BierceAmbrose. | October 4, 2022 at 3:31 am

        “Somebody who plays with money got a revenue stream over time.”
        J. G. Wentworth, obviously.

        In other words, the repeal of the Glass-Steagall Act was a colossal mistake. Everything gets “monetized” and available for speculative trading. The end of conservative investing.

          BierceAmbrose in reply to Pasadena Phil. | October 4, 2022 at 4:43 pm

          I’m with you on half of that. Repeal of Glass-Steagall was part of the grand collapse, and I think dumb other ways too. I’m not bugged about stuff getting monetized, or speculation, however.

          I am bugged about coupling speculation on anything, really, with conservative “savings.” Investment banks, private equity, and whatever other mutants should eat their own losses.

          Let em all go under, and put $3,000 in everyone’s bank account — about $1 trillion. How’s that work out worse than what was done? In many ways it works out better.

          What’s the old saw? “You don’t gamble with the rent money.” You gotta keep the rent money and play money separate or that doesn’t work.

      Bingo, Georgfelis.

    Petrushka in reply to henrybowman. | October 3, 2022 at 9:14 pm

    Both pipes were full, but not flowing. Meaning there would be plugs in both. Leading to the possibility there would be simultaneous efforts to unplug them.

    Done by Russians. In their patented Chernobyl mode.

      The pipelines were monitored for internal pressure. I’m guessing that pipelines don’t get congested in a split second. Reportedly, the pressure dropped all ALL FOUR pipelines from around 30 atmospheres (normal) to zero very suddenly.

      For those pipelines to be activated required international inspection and approval so the blame doesn’t fall completely on the Russians, if any, if this is what caused the failure.

      I could list over a dozen plausible theories that have been presented by “credible experts”. They can’t all be right nor wrong. Accident is the least likely and few are arguing this.

        NotCoach in reply to Pasadena Phil. | October 4, 2022 at 10:18 am

        Pressures won’t necessarily changed when a plug exists. Consider closing a valve on a normal compressed air line. Both sides of valve should maintain pressure if there is no place for air to escape.

Proof US blew up Nord Stream Pipeline: Monkey Werx-SITREP 9.30.22 LIVE- – Threat Level Midnight – Bobbleheads at Work
US Navy Aircraft tracking over the Nord Stream Pipeline along with video of Joe Biden saying Nord Stream will be destroyed if Russia invades Ukraine.

    gospace in reply to jerusalemcats. | October 3, 2022 at 2:07 pm

    There were also Russian naval forces performing manuevers in the same area about the time of the pipes bursting/breaking/exploding/being attacked.

    A photo analysis of the breaks could very quickly determine was the pipe damage from an internal or an external source. It’s possible, but not probablt, that photo analysis would be indeterminate.

    Germany, the USA, Britain, Norway, and likely a lot of other countries have the capability to send down and direct underwater cameras to view. Why haven’t they?

      henrybowman in reply to gospace. | October 4, 2022 at 3:34 am

      Because of Schroedinger’s Results.
      As long as you don’t look, they don’t exist.

      Interesting observation but incomplete. There were also American, British and other ships observed in the area the two weeks preceding. That’s normal. The Baltic Sea is not a barren seascape. Look at the map. The countries surrounding it do not trust anyone and shouldn’t.

    I wouldn’t accept this until it has been verified substantially better. If true, potentially terrible consequences may ensue.

    What a f’ing joke.

    henrybowman in reply to jerusalemcats. | October 4, 2022 at 3:33 am

    The original MonkeyWerx article was pretty impressively detailed.

Nord 1 and Nord 2 each consist of two pipelines so we are talking about four pipelines exploding at the same time. I keep reading that there were three (or four) explosions which were detected by simultaneous pressure drops to zero on all of them (is it 3 or 4?). Unless the explosions occurred at some point where these four pipelines are side-by-side, and I don’t see any, one collapse couldn’t have triggered a chain reaction. S0….. I’m sticking to my duck theory.

Here are maps of the two Nordstream pipelines:×790-1.jpg?w=768×576.png

So there is short stretch where they run close to each other but only 2 (3?) of the explosions happened there. The other (2?) occurred what looks like 8-10km further.

I don’t know if these maps are all that accurate. There seems to be a discrepancy where the first map (inset) shows the N1 and N2 going in different directions after the explosions whereas the other map shows them running parallel the entire route.

On further review of the maps, it looks like 3 explosions occurred in close proximity with the other 50-60km further down route. Simultaneous explosions (or collapses)?

    bobguzzardi48 in reply to Pasadena Phil. | October 3, 2022 at 4:25 pm

    Has anything lik this happened before on Nord 1 or 2?

      Generally, pipeline leaks are very rare and explosions? I can’t recall it every happening before outside of war. Lots of incidents of sabotage by terrorists and environmentalists though. As to Nord 1&2, they are both new but a simple google search might tell us more.

      “Unprecedented”. No leaks. This is a first.

      However, I really doubt this is the first time a major oil facility has been sabotaged. These are acts of war and the reports might be repressed. The Gulf of Mexico British Petroleum the Deep Horizon oil rig explosion that released crude across the gulf was never completely resolved as far as I can tell. There were serious reports of strange activity by named persons just before the explosion but I never saw any reporting on how that ended. I may have missed it but I’ve been investing in pipelines for over 30 years and I think I would have caught it.

      US pipelines are very high-tech these days and are monitored 24/365. They are also internally inspected frequently. Difficult to stop idiots who shoot at the pipelines but so far, terrorism doesn’t seem to be a high risk.

I’ll wait for the official report and then wait some more because I don’t trust the officials.

“No place is safe”, very true. Neither is fantasy energy policy made by virtue signaling European elites from the comfort of Western capitols. Reality is about to come calling.

his article also mentions lawdog post with some personal experience

You see, I’ve seen firsthand the incompetence and lack of maintenance when I worked in the USSR and you’ve seen it too, if you watched the Russian invasion of Ukraine with poorly designed and maintained equipment.

    Dimsdale in reply to dmacleo. | October 3, 2022 at 9:03 am

    Slipshod Russian construction? Surely you jest.

    Maybe they should have had the Germans construct it for some preferential gas access…

    And then there is the math. It’s not that your argument has no plausibility. It’s the math compounded by geography further compounded by global politics. Everyone seems to be looking at this from their own narrow focus on one detail or the other.

    The only expertise I bring to the table is economics and being a logical person which informs me that this was a coordinated act of sabotage. If we are wrong, then we know that it wasn’t sabotage and avoid WWIII. Meanwhile, people like lawdog can focus on the very unlikely possibility that this was just negligence. If he is wrong, which logic strongly suggests, and we didn’t explore the most logical possibility, God help us. Let’s not get distracted for fear of being “conspiracy theory alarmists”. We are running out of conspiracies. All of the others have proven to be true.

      taurus the judge in reply to Pasadena Phil. | October 3, 2022 at 10:00 am

      The thing is, without facts all we have is speculation.

      I don’t have any problem believing this was deliberate sabotage and I have very little problem that the left could have had a hand in it so either one would not be a difficult sell to me.

      That said, I’m not jumping on any bandwagon until I at least see what will be “presented” as the fruits of an investigation first. (I don’t rule out a fraudulent investigation to shore an agenda either- just look at Trump)

      I need more than unfounded rumor, speculation and conjecture though.

        Yes, we are all speculating. It’s easy to say that but we better get this right in the right way fast and commit to it. Allowing ourselves to be distracted with a desirable shiny object because the alternative is so ugly is foolish. So if you don’t think you have enough “facts” to have an opinion, then don’t proffer one. You aren’t staking the high ground.

        If you even had responsibility over anything, then you know that you are always presented with two scenarios: not information or buried in information. But you have to make a decision with what you have at the moment.

        My opinion is based on what we have and applying logic (including that much over-used Occam’s Razor which is also a kind of speculation) while putting my feelings aside. If I’m wrong, so what. I won’t be wrong on everything and will eventually find myself at the right answer when it emerges.

        So if you are going to stand on the sidelines and help speculate us into a better theory, then do that but don’t imply that those of us who ARE speculating are being foolish.


          If you EVER had responsibility over anything, then you know that you are always presented with two scenarios: not enough information or buried in information.

          taurus the judge in reply to Pasadena Phil. | October 3, 2022 at 11:03 am


          Nothing I said is casting aspersions or implications on anyone regarding this situation. Certainly not indicating anyone is “foolish’ and I would challenge anyone to produce any post where I said such.

          Also, I’m speaking from actual experience doing this (BP Texas city as a consultant for the CSB so I’m familiar with the process). That has taught me a lot about how things can happen with oil and gas piping plus my own demolitions experience.

          FWIW, I also “strongly suspect” the possibility of deliberate sabotage so I would be also referring to “myself” as being one of those “fools” if that were the case.

          That said, I need to see a blast analysis because you cant hide physics. This easily can be a chain reaction to a single event.

          I hesitate to jump to any conclusion because this is a situation ripe for numerous false flags depending on several agenda’s.

          With a potential armed conflict as a possible result, I just think it prudent to get all available facts first.

          Thats all.

          @taurus: my point is that if we sit around for all of the “facts” to materialize before we offer opinions, we are being utter fools. We are up to our ears in evidence already. We just don’t have ALL of the evidence necessary to take it to court. That doesn’t mean we can’t make decisions on we already have. That is the way the real world works and why we are always at a disadvantage to liars and thieves. as we wait for truth to put its pants on, the liars and thieves are wreaking havoc unchallenged.

          We “speculators” have a better chance of getting the upper hand on the narrative because we create maps that lead to somewhere that narrows down the possibilities.

          As I’ve said many times before, none of us really “know” anything. We are all basing our opinions on what we “believe”. Not having all of the facts is where ALL important decisions are made. That’s just the way life works. The truth rarely gets a chance to get its pants on in time to stop the biggest evils. We MUST act based on SOMETHING. And the debates here online can be very informative so they need to occur. Just don’t limit your stating your opinions in declarative sentences. It’s okay to have imperfect opinions if they are presented that way.

          That’s all I’m saying.

          taurus the judge in reply to Pasadena Phil. | October 3, 2022 at 12:41 pm

          and I agree with you for the most part but in this case with the “potential’ that it could lead to a shooting war- we need to exercise restraint.

          I’m sure those “in the know” are already doing a deep dive and just the fact that threats are not already flying points more toward an accident.

          Here’s a “possible” reason.

          I have to believe numerous underwater listening stations recorded these events. ( land based, research, subs etc.)

          I don’t do anything “underwater” personally but have done signature analysis in mining at the pits to determine completeness of the blast prior to allowing machinery in to take rock to the crushers rather than call EOD to look for UXO/ICXO. (unexploded ordinance/incomplete unexploded ordinance)

          There is a CLEAR AND DISTINCTIVE difference between a slow explosion ( gas, flammables etc.) and “white explosives” ( fast FPS burn from dynamite all the way up)

          That same signature is also a very accurate estimate of the size charge ( duration) also.

          Somebody has that data (I’m sure more than one too) and has already made the determination.

      CommoChief in reply to Pasadena Phil. | October 3, 2022 at 10:20 am

      Agreed. Two pipelines on same day? Multiple explosions? Just as another pipeline into Poland becomes operational? On the heels of another European govt falling to populist discontent? While an early cold snap in Europe gives a foretaste of the coming squeeze? While OPEC+ is set to announce they will be reducing production to shore up prices? As several EU nations make new agreements with gulf oil/gas providers?

      Could all this be a coincidence that was occurring nearly simultaneously while design flaws or maintenance issues are to blame? Possible but that’s a lot of other factors to look past. Leaving aside the Biden Admin veiled threats about the pipelines for another day…..

      @Taurus. Really. WE have to exercise restraint? I think you have an inflated opinion of who WE are! WE are just commenting on a blog. We can speculate all we want. Your “facts” are speculation too. You are just foolishly afraid of being wrong at any step of the way. Maybe you’re think that we will someday be judged for being right early but I am not. I am listening to and considering everything people are “speculating” here and trying to improve my narrative. Trust me, I really, really don’t care about being proven wrong at any time of my learning process so long as I end up in the right place. I think you have too much ego tied up with being a commenter.

        taurus the judge in reply to Pasadena Phil. | October 3, 2022 at 3:03 pm

        I don’t mean “we” on the blog- I’m referring to “we’ citizenry at large.

        a “person” is smart but “people” are usually stupid.

        Its not ego- its the realization that there are far more “readers” who may form opinions on the words here than there are posters who write them. ( this is a heavily visited site)

          healthguyfsu in reply to taurus the judge. | October 3, 2022 at 5:25 pm

          On simple solutions, crowds are actually very smart (look at audience polling in gameshows)

          On complex nuanced solutions, crowds are a stuttering pile of cacophony and non-productive impulsivity

          @taurus:WE are speculating as commenters on a blog thread. Buyers beware. Based on the down votes I am getting on this, it may be that some of us need to check our egos at the door. We are only one level above being trolls. I don’t comment to pontificate, I do it to “think our loud”. I don’t comment on most threads but there are some excellent threads at LI that are very informative and I learn a lot. But for the most part, it’s just people venting.

          YOU have a habit of “correcting” me for being “imprecise” and then proceed to restate what I said without changing my point. What purpose does that serve? I find it annoying.

      “which logic strongly suggests”

      Actually, all your logic is faulty as it suggests nothing so far. We have nothing but conjecture and the certainty that pipelines such as this are a hazard waiting for a russian to screw it up. What happened? You don’t know, and neither does anyone else. No logic solves that.

      You logic your way into your belief, nothing more.

        That;s exactly what I’ve been saying! None of us KNOW anything! We are ALL speculating! That is all that goes on with these threads. And you argue against me by bouncing it back at me? LOL.

    gospace in reply to dmacleo. | October 3, 2022 at 2:26 pm

    The Law Dog post mentions diesel effect. Have some experience with that and high pressure air.

    There are filters after the air compressors to remove oil from the airstram. Some oil gets in because compressors are oil lubricated. Draining the filters is an easy procedure. 2 valves- we’re dealing with high pressure air, less then 6 inches apart. Open the outer valve first, then SLOWLY open the inner valve to drain. Then shut the inner valve, shut the outer valve. Simple, easy peasy.

    What happens if you throw open the inner valve fists and suddenly pressurize that very small section of ¼” drain line? Within a few seconds that filter with 1 inch (or greater) walls is glowing bright red, and a few seconds after that ½” tubing with a pressure rating of 10,000 PSI bursts.

    Luckily the person who initiated this was in the doorway leaving when the pipe blew. Sent him out the door faster then he was exiting- blew him 50 feet or so.

    A good day was not had by all. Especially since it happened just about midnight.

    Doesn’t take much to create problems mixing explosive/flammable gasses with high pressure and oxidizer.

    IIf you’ve worked with high pressure steam, of even lived in a building with steam heat, you’re likely familiar with water hammer. Just a simple water slug speeding down a line and hitting an elbow can cause banging. At high pressure- and high volume flow rate, you can get pipe ruptures. law Dog mentions a moving solid slug, Yep, that would do it.

I was reading on the internet that it isn’t 100% Russian Pipeline and there are European companies involved so construction may have been monitored and standards upheld. I can’t say anything about maintenance. Not enough info.

    That’s my understanding too. That is what companies like Baker Hughes and Schlumberger specialize in and it is very possible that they were involved in this project too.

Another list of theories that are much more plausible than maintenance failures:

The question at this point is not whether this was sabotage but how did the usual suspects do it. This was clearly a well-coordinated operation and the US was very likely involved.

On the national level, there are too many major players who would benefit from a direct war between the US and Russia. Another way to look at this is to consider that there were global players within the various nations were would have had the most incentive to do this. I’m talking about the Davos crowd that is embedded in critical positions in many countries to pull this off. That would be my bet at this point.

First, please remove the “methyl hydrates” label in the title of the post. This is a term infrequently used in place of “methanol” by people who don’t know any better.

Second, all of the scary things about gas hydrate plugs that are described in the article are in reference to dynamic (flowing) gas pipelines. Formation of hydrates only happen in small amounts in the gas, and only become a plug when the hydrates drift together, much like snow forms drifts against a wall when the wind blows. Hydrate plugs are most commonly a problem only at constrictions in the pipe (either bends or valves) in an active (flowing) line. The danger from plugs comes about due to pressure differentials in the line, which cannot occur in a static gas-filled line (i.e., NS1 and NS2). Further, the underwater portions of the lines do not contain valves, and likely do not contain bends or constrictions.

Third, it is common practice to dehydrate gas before injecting into commercial pipelines like NS to prevent gas hydrate formation.

Finally, the undersea pipe is 54 inches in diameter. I leave it to someone smarter than I am to explain how a gas hydrate plug of 54″ diameter and several feet wide could form in a line of this size.

    Whitewall in reply to pkreter. | October 3, 2022 at 10:35 am

    I’ve wondered too. Could it be that when a plug is formed then more will form on and on until they come together to form a massive plug even in pipes that size. If an explosion the size of the first one that registered on sensing equipment nearby was so strong, could it have destabilized the next pipe in the system and then the next?

      pkreter in reply to Whitewall. | October 3, 2022 at 11:01 am

      Refer to the snow-drift analogy that was in my comment above. This can occur ONLY if gas is flowing in the pipeline. Both sets of lines were static, NS1 for months, and NS2 for a longer time. Plus, the amount of water in a typical undersea pipeline is limited to ~7 lbs/MMSCF (million standard cubic feet) to minimize/eliminate hydrate formation. So you comment “on and on until they come together…” could not possibly happen in the static lines. Plus, even if you physically put a plug in the line, there is NO pressure differential in a static line.

      Also, the comments about Gazprom’s sloppy maintenance and poor safety standards seem to ignore the fact that Gazporm has reliably operated pipelines for many years.

      For those who are inclined to call me a Russian apologist, just know that both my paternal grandparents were born in Volhynia Oblast, Ukraine. My prayers go out to the people of Ukraine, not their utterly corrupt government.

    Also, these explosions happened in “warm” shallow water (15-200 ft). If pressure build up was the cause, wouldn’t that more likely occurred in colder deep water where the pressure exerted would have been 30 atmospheres? Shallow water also makes it easier to plant explosives.

    The more I explore this, the more it looks like anything but sabotage would have been a very improbable fluke.

      taurus the judge in reply to Pasadena Phil. | October 3, 2022 at 12:54 pm

      Phil, you gotta add this in too

      This pipe was “cased” by reinforced concrete ( roughly 4 inches) so some of that ocean pressure was negated by the pipe and casement thickness as well as temperature.

      To blow that up ( under water) would require at least a 2 stage explosive ( or a shaped charge with penetrator)

      That would require some installation prep and would have a very distinctive signature.

      OTOH, I don’t readily believe coincidences and all these explosions together are legitimately suspicious.

        I’d also consider that hydrates *melt* and release a lot of gas when they do, so a section of deeper/colder pipe where the gas has not been moving in some time and possible saltwater seepage has occurred from the shutdown of NS1 and 2 could lead to hydrate formation. Now start that pipeline gas moving, taking the slushy hydrate ‘ice’ along with it until the pipe ascends to a warmer level, the hydrates start expanding dramatically, pushing the hydrate slush and chunks along like a linear avalanche… Like I said, I’m no expert, but I wouldn’t want to be within miles of this.

          taurus the judge in reply to georgfelis. | October 3, 2022 at 1:24 pm

          Me personally, I’m convinced the signature analysis is going to answer the question in no uncertain terms. It wont identify who but it will answer the question as to what the explosion was.

          Two things are for certain

          There is a world of difference between an open cell and closed cell explosive ( slow boom versus fast pow)

          There will be no question in amplitude delta between an explosion initiating outside or inside the casement.

          Those both are facts of physics and cant be manipulated- they are what they are.

          I have to believe multiple stations have this data. ( every listening post/ship over several hundred miles probably)

Everything is simple until you look at it closely. Drilling is one of those things. The formation of hydrates in gas drilling/piping is much the same as if you noticed nitroglycerine forming around your kitchen stove, i.e. dangerous and unpredictable unless treated with great care. There’s quite a bit of evidence that says hydrate formation and explosive release was the cause for the Deepwater Horizon failure and 100% certainty that it caused a lot of problems with getting the gusher capped because hydrates kept forming on anything they tried to use to cork it.

So we are generally left with two choices to believe:
1. The current administration, who could screw up a recipe for instant pudding, managed to carry off a pinpoint precision military strike with no leaks.
2. Russian pipeline maintenance and upkeep.

I’m tending to believe the second. It would be *very* interesting to hear the opinion of the sonar operators of any US ships in the vicinity in the days prior to this, because if the Russians were trying to ‘purge’ the line by pressurizing it to push hydrate plugs out the other end, there would presumably be odd noises like banging and thudding. But that’s my uninformed opinion, like ten thousand other internet specialists that have suddenly sprang up in the last week.

    Free State Paul in reply to georgfelis. | October 3, 2022 at 1:29 pm

    The current administration may be incompetent, but not the Deep State bureaucracy at State and CIA. Evil, arrogant and out-of-touch, but not incompetent.

    Nobody would expect Biden to sit down with his staff and map out an underwater demolition operation in the Oval Office (“C’mon man! You’re going to need more than 50 kg of C4 for the third explosion! I’m not kidding around! Kamala, what do you say?”)

      taurus the judge in reply to Free State Paul. | October 3, 2022 at 1:34 pm

      Personally, I believe the deep state would deliberately keep Brandon out of the loop for fear he would blow it

        IF this was intitiated by sub-levels of the government- it suddenly becomes very serious. Especially if POTUS was kept out of the loop. We’re talking about committing an act of war involving the USA. Without any kind of authorization. Informing POTUS would actually only add him to a war crime. No declaration of war, not even a congressional use of force resolution.

        Anyone involved or with prior notice of this should be dangling at the end of a rope. IF it happened. CIA does not have the capability of pulling this off by itself. Military would have to be involved in some way. Any military officer with half a brain would realize this is a war crime. Too many would have to be involved for it to happen without someone calling a halt to it.

        I don’t think even any of the PMCs would want anything to do with this.

      Our VP recommended a method of draining all the hydrates from a large pipe and Nothing blew up when she was working on the pipeline Please don’t think this administration doesn’t have the experience necessary to get the job done.

      Whatever happened with Kamala was west coast. There is absolutely no evidence Kamala was near NS1 or NS2 at the time of the explosion.

I wonder whether this scenario (negligence/accident) isn’t being offered as a way for the saber-rattlers to walk back their threats while there’s still time.

The video shows the burning in open atmosphere……In a natural gas pipeline just how much oxygen is there?

for the record I am ambivalent about all opinions/possibilities on what happened.
time will tell.

If these multiple explosions in different locations all within hours of each other were just an accident waiting to happen where were all of the experts waving red flags and sounding alarms for the last few months?

    taurus the judge in reply to JHogan. | October 3, 2022 at 1:36 pm

    Not a good analogy because often times clients tend to ignore or “explain away” reports that cost money or contain “bad news”.

    Just the way it is.

    They keep us quiet because we have to sign confidentiality agreements.

      So the owners of N1 and N2 (if what I’ve read is correct Russia was not the only owner) were warned but chose to ignore the warnings and told the people raising red flags they had to keep quiet about it or else?

      I’m having trouble seeing how that makes sense. Not the least of which is the pipeline owners have a huge interest in not having their pipelines blow up.

      What about experts in the industry, including academia, who didn’t work for the owners? If this was a fairly obvious well-known problem and an accident just waiting to happen, and with the international spotlight on these pipelines, why wasn’t there someone somewhere raising an alarm? Why wouldn’t several governments be concerned enough to investigate?

      Full disclosure, I worked for a large interstate NG pipeline company for several years — several thousand miles of pipeline, including out into the Gulf of Mexico. Engineers were always concerned about aging pipelines becoming a danger. None ever blew up.

        taurus the judge in reply to JHogan. | October 3, 2022 at 2:09 pm

        @ Hogan

        I also have worked/consulted for every firm in Energy Corridor too- up/downstream and oil/gas/LNG. I am certain we have gone over the same paths.

        Companies ignore warnings as a matter of policy and play the odds (BP Texas City did too)

        As to the other “experts”, first, without actual data NO “expert” ( with a professional license and bond) is going to say anything for liability reasons.

        Unless that same expert is independently wealthy, he isn’t going to say much for political reasons and if he did, most wont listen and he faces reprisals.

        A government is so ineffective they wouldn’t know what to do if you told them.

        Also, specifically speaking as an Expat working over there- we actually “attempt” to follow the rules overt here- over “there” following the rules equals local bribery ( even up to the company policy on how to handle that when approached). That’s embedded into their culture and is considered “normal business practice” over there. ( really bad in the Caribbean)

        Ask any Expat you know- they will tell you the same.

        I have suspicions but can easily accept this is a maintenance/engineering related event

Free State Paul | October 3, 2022 at 1:17 pm

“Remember the Maine!”

Whether the Maine was sunk by Spain or suffered a boiler explosion is immaterial. The only thing that matters is it was a good excuse to start a war.

bobguzzardi48 | October 3, 2022 at 4:28 pm

Has anything lik this happened before on Nord 1 or 2?

I read the whole thread, there are many interesting perspectives, but just not enough facts to form any conclusions.

    LibraryGryffon in reply to JohnSmith100. | October 3, 2022 at 6:59 pm

    If the theory of one side suddenly changing the pressure to purge the pipes without coordinating with the other end of the pipes is indeed a possibility, could they have been sabotaged from the control room? I did see someone somewhere suggest in jest that it might have been the result of a disgruntled Russian worker who had just been called up for the war pushing a few buttons on his way out. Which would presumably help explain why the explosions occurred so close in time.

    Not being anything approaching an expert on this, I have to agree with Mr Smith100 above, that we don’t have enough facts to form conclusions. I can see both sabotage or poor Russian maintenance being at fault. (See the entire Russian nuc sub program…)

Richard Aubrey | October 3, 2022 at 8:25 pm

There’s a story which doesn’t seem to have been contradicted that the US snuck some destructive software into a Russian NG facility, causing it to blow itself up.
And the Israelis apparently did something like in regards to Iranian centrifuges.

In the Nordstream case, is there enough software between the human operator and the result that pushing the right button could, due to skullduggery, get the wrong result?

    JohnSmith100 in reply to Richard Aubrey. | October 3, 2022 at 8:47 pm

    I spent many years doing automation, lots of different types. A huge part of that is making sure that people cannot cause a failure like this. 75% of the job was about preventing intentional or just stupidity from causing a machine or a controlled process from running amok.

      Petrushka in reply to JohnSmith100. | October 3, 2022 at 9:29 pm

      Russia. Chernobyl.

      I’m not advocating for any theory, but if it could have been a screw up, it probably was. Some of the hydrate theory sounds like TWA-800.

      Eventually there will be pictures.

      I spent many years and still do. And no one ever makes anything foolproof. Only fools believe that.

Not being a chemist (a good thing, because chemistry was my worst subject), I can only ask a different and dumber question: When and where has the same thing happened elsewhere?

    Petrushka in reply to RandomCrank. | October 3, 2022 at 9:34 pm

    Not sure this is relevant. Wether it was sabotage or maintenance screw-up, it was war related. Pipelines are not unilaterally shut down, generally. Or unilaterally restarted.

The key point here is the fact that the pipeline NOT being in service (pumps shut off at the source), but still full of natural gas is what creates the conditions necessary for the type of catastrophic failure of the type described above.

If Russia had continued pumping gas through it, as usual, there would have been no risk of this happening.

“… The hydrate has the density of ice, almost twice that of the surrounding fluid….”

What surrounding fluid? Water?

BierceAmbrose | October 4, 2022 at 4:55 pm


Good reading in comments. People bringing what they know for sure, n throwing speculative candidates into the pot.

Unless we are being grossly misinformed, I thought there were ruptures in both pipelines. What is the probability of the same type of accident happening in two separate gas lines within a short time of each other???

Methane hydrates cannot form without water being present. So how did the water get into the methane? The hydrostatic pressure outside the pipe would be less than the pressure inside the pipe. Hence a leak would involve methane exiting the pipe. The pressure difference would keep water from getting into the pipe.

Nice thought, but a released methane hydrate plug travelling through a pipeline does not cause a problem until it hits a bend or a valve. The devolution of a methane hydrate plug would not cause an overpressure situation either

If the pressure in the lines got too low, the water pressure could collapse them, but at the water depths involved, this is unlikely.

I suppose some undetected flaw caused two non-adjacent pipelines to rupture in quick succession, purely by coincidence.