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Drones, Oil platform | Drones at oil platforms: Several are said to have flown less than 500 meters from the platforms

– I cannot quantify the number of observations, but there are several observations linked to several different fields. These observations have been made over several months, says section leader Amund Revheim at the North Sea and environment section in the Sør-West police district to Nettavisen.

It was the website AldriMer that first wrote about the drone sightings on the Norwegian continental shelf. Sources told the website that observations had been made at the Gullfaks field, the Johan Sverdrup field and the Snorre field. This week Stavanger Aftenblad wrote that observations had also been made at the Kristin field. Revheim does not want to say where observations have been made.

– It is an extensive investigation, where we are working to get more detailed answers as to whether drones have been observed, who has operated them, and what is the motive for flying drones into the security zone around the installations, says Revheim.

The police are investigating possible violations of the Petroleum Act. The same law is applied if activists or others get too close to the platforms. The law states that it is forbidden to travel less than 500 meters from the oil installations, without approval from the responsible company.

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– Most likely it is drones

Revheim does not want to say specifically whether the police have photos or other documentation of what has moved near the platforms. He nevertheless states that the police believe that the information is reliable.

– The information is of such a nature that we believe it is likely that drones have been observed, he says.

– We consider it most likely that these have been operated from vessels, but do not rule out other possibilities, he says.

Part of the investigation is to map which ships were in the area around the various installations, during the time periods in which the observations were made. It is a significant job. As you can see in the map below, there is a lot of traffic around the installations in the North Sea.

Although the Norwegian platforms are in the Norwegian economic zone, they are not in Norwegian territorial waters. This means that ships from other nations can travel freely in the areas around the platforms.

It is not unusual for the Russians to use this opportunity to approach important installations for NATO countries. Nettavisen has previously written about Russian GUGI ships that were suspected of having stolen a Norwegian surveillance cable in 2021. Russia claims that the GUGI ships are only research ships in deep water, but they are referred to as espionage ships by several Western sources.

Read: Norwegian surveillance cable gone without a trace: – Russian GUGI has the ability to be behind the possible sabotage against Norway

PST follows the investigation

Senior adviser Martin Bernsen in the Police’s security service tells Nettavisen that they are aware of the incidents.

– It could be illegal intelligence against Norway, says Bernsen. He says that the offshore sector is an intelligence target.

– After the Ukraine war broke out, we must expect increased intelligence pressure on Norway.

Researcher and teacher Ståle Ulriksen at the Naval Academy does not comment on the quality of the drone observations that have now been made in the North Sea, but states that the risk to Norwegian oil and gas installations has never been greater than now.

– We have never been in a situation where the risk is so high, he says and explains:

– Russia perceives that they are at war with NATO. In the North Sea, we thus have a strategically important gas production that has never been more important for Europe than now.

He points out that Russia has already made gas a weapon in the conflict with NATO, by stopping Russian gas exports to Europe.

– Europe would have found itself in an extremely difficult situation if gas deliveries from Norway had stopped, says Ulriksen.

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Don’t believe in attacks against platform

But Ulriksen does not believe that any Russian action will be aimed directly at a platform. Rather, he believes that it will be aimed at underwater installations such as gas pipelines, and that it will be done in such a way that the Russians can disclaim responsibility.

– I think it is a little unconscious of Norway to sit on such large resources, and to know how important these are, while at the same time putting in little measures to defend the resources, says Ulriksen.

He says that it should not be unnatural if other NATO countries also got involved in securing the installations in the North Sea. The researcher imagines that a separate NATO headquarters could be established in Western Norway, with responsibility for securing the shelf.

Read also: Russian activity along the Norwegian coast is worrying

One of the large operators, Equinor, is very sparing with comments on the drone activity they have reported. Nor do they want to say much about the increased risk on the Norwegian continental shelf.

In general, I can say that we are in constant close contact with the relevant security authorities and central partners and suppliers, regarding risk assessments and security measures around our activity, says spokesperson Eskil Eriksen.

– Do the employees on the shelf feel that safety is taken care of?

We feel that the level of security on the Norwegian continental shelf is high. But as long as events happen, we must always improve, he says.

The article is in Norwegian

Tags: Drones Oil platform Drones oil platforms flown meters platforms

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