– It is not surprising that this is happening in the North Sea, but considering the development drone business has had in recent years.
That’s what Odd Einar Olsen says, who is professor of social security at the University of Stavanger (UiS).
He believes it is time to take drones more seriously.
– Drones can be a fantastic tool that can be used for a lot of things. But there are others who can use the tool in ways we don’t like, which are illegal, says Olsen.
At the same time, he is concerned that no hasty conclusions must be drawn about what has happened in the North Sea.
– It is easy to take things a little too far. But you must be alert, and at least find out what it is.
More drone sightings
At the weekend, an unidentified drone was observed at the Gina Krog oil and gas field, Equinor confirms to NRK.
It was the website Never More that first mentioned the case.
Recently, drones have been observed at several oil installations in the North Sea, including Johan Sverdrup and Gullfaks C.
In total, there have been reports of at least six sightings of unidentified drones within the safety zone of Norwegian platforms on the Norwegian continental shelf, writes Stavanger Aftenblad.
– We have had some of these incidents at our installations, and when we do this type of incident it is reported to the Norwegian authorities. In this case, it is the Petroleum Safety Authority, says press spokesman Eskil Eriksen in Equinor.
The oil company does not want to share how many observations and where they were made. This is for security reasons.
Equinor takes the matter seriously and is in dialogue with the authorities.
The police are investigating the case
The Petroleum Safety Authority has been given the opportunity to comment on the case, but refers to the police, who are now investigating the observations.
– We keep all possibilities open. We are working with several hypotheses and there is no one suspected or charged in these cases now, says section leader Amund Preede Revheim in the Sør-West police district.
The police take seriously the observations, which were made within the oil fields’ safety limit of 500 metres. This is illegal and can pose a safety risk, including for helicopter traffic.
– Based on the messages, it seems that these are different drones that have been observed. The police have been given different descriptions. We follow up and verify that information, says Revheim.
The police security service (PST) has been notified. This is routine in such cases.
From toys to aviation
The new technology for drones creates opportunities and challenges that must be dealt with, Knut Roar Wiig believes. He is the CEO of the drone company Nordic Unmanned.
He is also not surprised by the unidentified drones in the North Sea.
– We are challenged by the development, at the same time we lack knowledge in the field. Then things happen that we have not foreseen, he says.
Both drones and the challenges they pose are here to stay, he emphasizes.
– We are seeing a major change in technology which is now over into a more industrial and completely different phase. Where the drone gets bigger and can withstand much more. It is becoming aviation and no longer a toy, Wiig explains.
This also makes the drones a more powerful tool that is more robust and can withstand more.
Drones can, for example, provide enough information to create a complete 3D model of what they fly over.
– And most people have an interest in what they fly over, says Wiig.