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Norway deploys military to protect North Sea oil and gas assets

Highlights

Police requested assistance from military

ConocoPhillips raises security at its Norwegian offshore assets

UK's MoD 'safeguarding critical infrastructure'

  • Author
  • Tom Washington    Andrew Critchlow
  • Editor
  • Ankit Rathore
  • Commodity
  • Natural Gas Oil

Norway has beefed up its military presence around the North Sea where flagship Oseberg, Ekofisk and Troll crude grades are produced, following the alleged sabotage of Nord Stream gas pipelines and an investigation into suspicious drones observed near Norwegian oil and gas installations.

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The Norwegian police, via the ministry of justice, has requested assistance, with Norway's home guard providing aid, a spokesperson for the Norwegian Ministry of Defense said Oct. 3.

Norway is currently Europe's top oil and gas producer, producing nearly 2 million b/d of petroleum liquids from the North Sea and nearby waters along with almost 350 million cu m/d of gas -- around a quarter of European gas demand. The country's importance in energy terms has been elevated by a steep reduction in supplies of Russian gas via pipeline following the invasion of Ukraine in February 2022.

"[The police] have requested assistance in securing the area and monitoring," the Norwegian MoD spokesperson said.

Norwegian armed forces are present and conducting patrols with military assets on land, in the air, at sea, under water, and in cyberspace around Norwegian oil and gas installations, the Norwegian Home Guard said in a statement late Sept. 30.

UK's cooperation

Following suspected sabotage of the Baltic Sea Nord Stream pipeline system from Russia, the UK's Centre for the Protection of National Infrastructure has also urged North Sea oil and gas operators to step up security at their installations, according to a copy of a statement seen by S&P Global Commodity Insights Sept. 30.

Although the UK is monitoring infrastructure, it did not say if specific operations had been launched to guard it.

"The Ministry of Defense constantly observes its areas of responsibility and interest. This includes safeguarding critical infrastructure such as underwater cables and offshore structures," a spokesperson for the UK's Ministry of Defense said.

The damage to the pipelines has sparked concerns among Norway and the UK's defense partners.

The North Atlantic Treaty Organization on Sept. 29 vowed a "united and determined" response in the event of attacks on critical energy infrastructure, describing damage to the Nord Stream natural gas pipelines in the Baltic Sea as sabotage and a risk to shipping.

Companies are also raising security levels.

US upstream company ConocoPhillips has raised security preparedness at its Norwegian offshore assets, which include the flagship Ekofisk field, after sightings of unauthorized drones, it said Sept. 30, amid heightened tensions over the Nord Stream pipeline leaks in the Baltic Sea.

TotalEnergies said Sept. 29 that it was also stepping up security after "unusual" drone activity was spotted at Denmark's largest oil field, Halfdan, where the French major is the lead partner.