Gas pipeline explosion: St Petersburg blast prompts criminal probe

An enormous explosion has damaged a high pressure gas pipeline outside of Murino, near St Petersburg in Russia’s Vsevolozhsky District.

Video of the Russia gas pipeline explosion, which can be seen from miles away, has been widely circulated on social media.

In one clip, filmed from a passing vehicle, a male voice can be heard saying “our gas in on fire, what about yours?” – seemingly mocking the shortage of gas being experienced in the Eurozone.

Another piece of footage from an apartment complex in the nearby town of Murino shows the blast shaking buildings.

Unconfirmed reports have suggested the explosion is the result of an attack on Russia’s domestic gas network.

The damaged pipeline is understood to connect to the now-inactive Nord Stream pipeline and also to the Gazprom-operated Portovaya LNG Terminal near the Russia-Finland border, which according to the Global Energy Monitor only started producing gas in September.

Chief Scientific Officer at Haulogy, Damien Ernst, said the explosion reaffirms a major vulnerability for Russian defence.

“We note that their gas network is very vulnerable to attacks given that it is mostly unprotected and can hardly be protected given its enormous size,” he said.

The Murino gas pipeline explosion comes almost one month after the mysterious attack on the Russia-owned Nord Stream pipelines.

Russia’s official response to the St Petersburg gas explosion

In a statement released on Saturday night, Russia’s state news agency played down speculation that the incident was an attack on the country.

“Today at 3:32 p.m. Moscow time, there was a rupture which set ablaze the Belousovo-Leningrad main gas pipeline in the Vsevolzhsk district of the Leningrad Region. There were no casualties,” the statement said.

“The section was promptly shut down. An emergency team of Gazprom Transgaz St. Petersburg was dispatched to the site of the rupture, and preparations are underway for reconstruction operations.

“According to the Russian Emergencies Ministry, a gas pipeline caught fire in the Vsevolzhsk district of the Leningrad Region after depressurization.”

However, the agency stated a criminal case may be opened to investigate industrial negligence.

Related: How the Nord Stream attack could herald windfall profits for shipping stocks

“Nobody likes to talk about it”: Questions surrounding Russian hydrocarbon ‘venting’

The Russia gas explosion near St Petersburg comes just days after prominent macroeconomic advisor Harry Melandri revealed views about Russia being forced to purposely destroy hydrocarbon (oil and gas) supply.

“I have lots of friends in Eastern Europe, and my friends in Eastern Europe are very very keen to see Europe split with the Russian Federation. One of the mechanisms they cite is Russian hydrocarbon exports. Now what’s bothered me about this notion of minimizing Russia’s hydrocarbon market share is I’m not sure there was ever that much surplus hydrocarbons available to us,” he said on a Real Vision podcast.

“If anything I think these things are turning out to be more and more difficult to obtain and that the marginal hydrocarbon is obtained a much higher cost than past hydrocarbons.

“So when you force Russian pipeline gas to take a trip to India via a liquified natural gas container, you’re probably talking about the Russian’s venting a whole bunch of gas into the atmosphere – it’s not talked about, nobody likes to talk about it, but it’s probably happening.

“Either they’re damaging their own gas… But I’d not be surprised if Russian policy was involving them venting their own gas into the atmosphere, either direct, or burning it first.

“That gas has nowhere else to go, without the pipelines we don’t have the infrastructure to re-direct Russian gas to India.

“So to my mind what we’ve just done is create a defect globally of hydrocarbons. Not a lot of good things come when you’ve got a shortage of either oil and gas.”

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