Photo: For illustration purposes; Credit: Ellen Maria Skjelsbæk/Equinor

Norwegian govt tightening security around oil and gas installations

Following reports about increased drone activity close to offshore installations on the Norwegian Continental Shelf (NCS), the Norwegian Government has decided to heighten the emergency preparedness in relation to onshore and offshore installations on the shelf.

In a statement on Tuesday, Terje Aasland, the Norwegian Minister of Petroleum and Energy, commented: “There has been close contact between the Norwegian Government, the Police, the Norwegian Armed Forces and the operators on the Norwegian Continental Shelf. On this basis, the Government has decided to enact measures to heighten emergency preparedness in relation to infrastructure, onshore and offshore installations on the Norwegian Continental Shelf.”

Explaining the motivation behind this decision, Aasland added: “Some of the background are reports of increased drone activity. An investigation is ongoing. On a general basis, there is a high awareness around operational safety on the Norwegian Continental Shelf.”

The Norwegian Government added it is following the developments in the Baltic Sea, where there are gas leaks from Nord Stream 1 and Nord Stream 2.

Following a major pressure drop, gas leaks were reported earlier this week with a preliminary assessment indicating that a leak occurred from one of the two Nord Stream 2 pipelines southeast of Dueodde at Bornholm. The gas leaks have now prompted an investigation by authorities amid suspicions of sabotage.

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The Norwegian minister also confirmed these suspicions: “Based on the information we have seen so far, much indicates acts of sabotage.”

When it comes to reports of increased drone activity, Norway’s Petroleum Safety Authority (PSA) revealed on Monday that operator companies on the NCS had recently given warnings/notifications of a number of observations concerning unidentified drones/aircraft close to offshore installations. As a result, the PSA urged for an “increased vigilance” by all operators and vessel owners on the NCS.

On Tuesday, once the Nord Stream gas leaks came to light, the safety authority said it “does not wish to speculate about the causes of these leakages.”

“Dealing with current position is up to the authorities in the respective countries,” the regulator added.

It also said that cases where drones have infringed the safety zone around facilities are now being investigated by the Norwegian police.

The incident related to the Nord Stream pipeline overshadowed this week’s inauguration of the Baltic Pipe project, which will bring Norwegian gas to Poland.

Minister of Petroleum and Energy, Terje Aasland, participated at the official opening of the Baltic Pipeline in Szczecin on 27 September 2022. Source: The Norwegian government
Minister of Petroleum and Energy, Terje Aasland, participated at the official opening of the Baltic Pipeline in Szczecin on 27 September 2022. Source: The Norwegian government

As part of its efforts to strengthen energy security amid the current energy crisis exacerbated by the war in Ukraine, Poland has already inked a 10-year gas supply deal with Norway for a volume of around 2.4 billion cubic metres (bcm) of gas per year to be exported through the new Baltic Pipe.

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