MOSCOW (Reuters) -The operators of two Baltic Sea gas pipelines that linked Russia and Germany until they both sprang major leaks last week said they were unable to inspect the damaged sections because of restrictions imposed by Danish and Swedish authorities.
Europe is investigating what caused three pipelines in the Nord Stream network to burst in an act of suspected sabotage near Swedish and Danish waters that Moscow quickly sought to pin on the West, suggesting the United States stood to gain.
Nord Stream 2 AG, Switzerland-based operator of that gas pipeline, said on Tuesday it will examine the condition of the leaking pipelines once a police investigation of the "crime scene" is completed and a cordon is lifted.
Later on Tuesday, Nord Stream AG, operator of the older Nord Stream 1 pipeline, said they had been told by Danish authorities that receiving the necessary permits to carry out an inspection could take over 20 working days.
"According to the Swedish authorities, a ban on shipping, anchoring, diving, using of underwater vehicles, geophysical mapping, etc. has been introduced to conduct a state investigation around the damage sites in the Baltic Sea," Nord Stream said in a press release.
Pressure in the pipeline had stabilised as of Monday, Nord Stream added.
Switzerland-based Nord Stream 2 said in emailed comments it was "cooperating with all relevant authorities".
"Copenhagen police are handling the investigation of the crime scene at the Nord Stream 2 leak in the Danish EEZ (exclusive economic zone)," it said. "The Swedish coast guard has cordoned off the area around the leak in the Swedish EEZ."
Kremlin-controlled Gazprom has said flows could resume at the last remaining intact pipeline in the Nord Stream 2 network, a suggestion likely to be rebuffed given Europe blocked Nord Stream 2 days before Moscow sent its troops into Ukraine on Feb. 24.
(Reporting by Reuters; Editing by Andrew Heavens, Jan Harvey and Cynthia Osterman)