Norway deploys troops to protect oil and gas facilities


OSLO — Norway deploys troops to protect oil and gas facilities from sabotage after several countries said two Russian pipelines to Europe spewing gas into the Baltic Sea were attacked. It will be deployed, the prime minister said Wednesday.

A suspected sabotage gas leak discovered in the Nord Stream pipeline on Tuesday has disrupted energy markets and raised security concerns.

Norway is now Europe’s largest gas supplier and one of the world’s leading oil suppliers. There are more than 90 offshore oil and gas fields, most of which are connected by a network of gas pipelines that stretch about 9,000 km (5,590 miles).

Prime Minister Jonas Gar Stoor said at a press conference that “military forces will become more visible at Norwegian oil and gas facilities.”

The attack would be “handled jointly with allies,” he said. Norway is a member of NATO.

At sea, naval forces will be deployed to protect offshore facilities, while on land, police can increase their presence at facilities, he said.

NATO and the European Union have stressed the need to protect critical infrastructure and warned of a “robust and cohesive response” in the event of further attacks.

On Monday, the Norwegian Oil Safety Authority issued a further alert to unidentified drones seen flying near Norway’s offshore oil and gas platforms, risking accidents or deliberate attacks. warned that it could lead to

Storr said Wednesday that the drone sightings took place “predominantly in September”, involved drones of “various sizes” and that the activity was “abnormal”.

Still, he reiterated that he sees no particular threat to Norway’s offshore oil and gas sector and has not sought military aid from allies.

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Military experts have previously said the Nordic country’s oil sector security may be too lax.

“The Norwegian government is currently stating that the most important strategic objective across Europe is importing energy or gas from Norway,” Thor Ivar Stromen, a senior lecturer at the Royal Norwegian Naval Academy, told Reuters. We have to recognize that,” he said.

“If these supplies were cut or stopped or severely cut, this would trigger a full energy crisis in Europe,” Stromen said early Wednesday.

Equinor, Europe’s largest gas supplier, said Wednesday it had increased security measures at its facilities.

“We will never be able to completely stop the sabotage of our 8,800-kilometer pipeline. It is impossible.”

He said so far there has been a lack of coordination between the oil industry, the police and the military, each with different security responsibilities for onshore and offshore installations.

He suggested that the government should hire specialized vessels capable of underwater surveillance that are readily available to Norway’s large maritime industry.

“We will survey the gas lines and begin continuous monitoring of all surface activity near those pipelines,” Stromen said.

The Norwegian military is “alarmed” for the situation, said a spokesman for the Norwegian Joint Headquarters, the military’s operational command center.

Nora Buri

Reuters

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