Finnish police said Friday an examination of an anchor believed to have damaged a Baltic sea gas pipeline showed that it likely belonged to a Chinese cargo ship linked to the case.
After a leak led to the shutdown of the pipeline between Finland and Estonia on October 8, Finnish authorities have been investigating the damage they said was caused by “external” activity, raising speculation of potential sabotage.
Authorities had previously said findings pointed to the Hong Kong-flagged Newnew Polar Bear, and in late October said an anchor had been recovered from the seabed.
“At this stage we can state that the anchor lifted from the sea on 24 October 2023, may for some technical details be considered to belong to Newnew Polar Bear,” Detective Superintendent Risto Lohi of the Finnish police said in a statement.
Lohi added that the “same type of paint has also been detected as in the damaged gas pipeline.”
Police also said they had contacted Chines authorities and requested international legal assistance in order to clear up the case.
Sweden’s government announced in mid October that it had received information that a telecommunications cable linking it to Estonia had also been damaged, without being able to identify the cause.
The cable is believed to have been damaged at the same time as the Balticconnector pipeline.
It will take at least five months to repair the gas pipeline, its operator said in October, leaving Finland dependent on liquefied natural gas imports for the winter.
Natural gas accounts for around five percent of Finland’s energy consumption, being mainly used in industry and combined heat and power production.
Last year, underwater explosions that struck three of the four Nord Stream gas pipelines in the Baltic Sea, cutting off a major supply route to Europe from Russia at a time of heightened tensions between Moscow and the West over the war in Ukraine.
The cause of that sabotage remains unknown