Nord Stream Operator Surveys Pipeline Blast Site

COPENHAGEN/BERLIN (Reuters) - Nord Stream AG, the operator of the leaking Nord Stream 1 gas pipeline, has sent a chartered ship to waters off the coast of Sweden to survey the damage for the first time, the company said on Thursday.

Sweden and Denmark have concluded that four Nord Stream leaks identified last month were caused by explosions but have not said who might be responsible. World leaders have called it an act of sabotage.

Nord Stream AG, which is majority-owned by Russia's Gazprom said a specially equipped vessel had arrived in the exclusive economic zone off Sweden, confirming earlier comments by the Swedish Navy.

"After carrying out the calibration works, the specialists will be ready within 24 hours to start the survey of the damaged area that would take 3-5 days, according to current estimates," it said.

Swedish prosecutors and police earlier this month concluded a crime scene investigation, but the Nordic country's navy on Wednesday said it would conduct its own survey.

Sweden has rejected calls from Russian authorities to be part of its investigation or to share any findings before it is completed.

Nord Stream AG said it was still awaiting a permit to assess damage to the pipeline section in the Danish economic zone.

Norway, now Europe's biggest supplier of natural gas, has increased its pipeline inspections in the wake of the suspected blasts on the Nord Stream system last month, the head of the country's gas supply infrastructure told Reuters.

Dwindling flows of gas from Russia, which once supplied 40% of Europe's needs, have left the European Union struggling to unite over how to respond to surging prices that have deepened a cost-of-living crisis for families and businesses.

(Reporting by Stine Jacobsen in Copenhagen and Maria Sheahan in Berlin; Additional reporting by Vladimir Soldatkin in Moscow; Editing by Terje Solsvik, Nick Macfie and Mike Harrison)

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