- In September there was an increase in unidentified drones near Norwegian offshore energy facilities.
- The Norwegian Energy-Security Agency said that “drone activity has increased.”
- Leaks in the Nord Stream pipeline have been blamed for widespread vandalism this week.
Days before the attack on the Nord Stream pipeline, unidentified drones were spotted near offshore installations off the Norwegian coast, the Norwegian Energy-Security Agency said.
“Operating companies on the Norwegian Continental Shelf (NCS) have recently issued warnings/notifications of several sightings of unidentified drones/aircraft near offshore installations,” Norway’s PetroleumStilsenet said in a letter on Friday, September 23.
Nord Stream 1 and 2 each consist of two pipelines that carry natural gas from Russia to Europe. Since Monday, a total of four leaks have been reported at the pipeline near the island of Bornholm in the Danish part of the Baltic Sea, about 1,000 kilometers (620 miles) from where the drone was spotted.
Some Western governments have said they believe the pipeline was deliberately sabotaged, with some pointing the finger at Russia.
The Petroleum Still Senate held an extraordinary safety forum meeting on Thursday for companies and associations involved in Norway’s oil and gas industry.
“Part of the background to increased preparedness is reports received in recent weeks of increased drone activity over the NCS,” it said in a news release.
“These sculptures are of different sizes and their presence is increasing – especially in September.”
Norwegian police are now investigating cases where drones breached security zones around facilities, it said.
All platforms on the continental shelf are surrounded by a safety zone, which generally extends 500 meters (about 0.3 miles) from the facility and about the same above its highest point. The operation of unauthorized vessels and aircraft in the zone is prohibited, and the PetroleumStillSenate warns that violating the zone “may be punishable by law.”
“We will urge increased vigilance, review of emergency preparedness measures and incident response and information sharing,” the agency told operators in the letter.
Germany scrapped plans to commission Nord Stream 2 after Russia moved troops into Ukraine in February.
And in early September, Russian state-controlled gas giant Gazprom cut off Nord Stream 1 gas supplies to Europe. Both Gazprom and the Kremlin have said so Technical problems.
Discussing this week’s leaks, former CIA director John Brennan told CNN: “This is clearly some sort of sabotage, and Russia is certainly a suspect.”
Ukraine has accused Russia of damaging the pipeline As part of efforts to destabilize the EU’s economy in “terrorist attacks” and “aggressive acts”.
“All currently available information indicates that this is the result of deliberate, reckless and irresponsible acts of sabotage,” NATO said on Thursday. He threatened to retaliate, saying there would be a “coherent and firm response” to damage caused by vandalism.
Russian President Vladimir Putin called the leak an “act of international terrorism,” while a Kremlin spokesman told Reuters that state-sponsored terrorism was likely to blame.