OSLO/COPENHAGEN — Norway and Denmark will increase security and surveillance around their energy infrastructure sites after the alleged sabotage of Russia’s Nord Stream gas pipeline in the Baltic Sea.
Major leaks struck two underwater natural gas pipelines running from Russia to Germany, with experts reporting that explosions rattled the Baltic Sea beforehand.
Norway — an oil-rich nation and Europe’s biggest supplier of gas — will strengthen security at its land and offshore installations, the country’s energy minister said.
The Scandinavian country’s Petroleum Safety Authority also urged vigilance on Monday after unidentified drones were seen flying near Norway’s offshore oil and gas platforms.
“The PSA has received a number of warnings/notifications from operator companies on the Norwegian Continental Shelf concerning the observation of unidentified drones/aircraft close to offshore facilities,” the agency said in a statement.
“Cases where drones have infringed the safety zone around facilities are now being investigated by the Norwegian police.”
Meanwhile Denmark will increase security across its energy sector after the Nord Stream incident, a spokesperson for gas transmission operator Energinet told Upstream.
The Danish Maritime Agency has also imposed an exclusion zone for five nautical miles around the leaks, warning ships of a danger they could lose buoyancy, and stating there is a risk of the escaping gas igniting “above the water and in the air.”
Denmark’s defense minister said there was no cause for security concerns in the Baltic Sea region. “Russia has a significant military presence in the Baltic Sea region and we expect them to continue their saber-rattling,” Morten Bodskov said in a statement.
Video taken by a Danish military plane on Tuesday afternoon showed the extent of one of gas pipeline leaks, with the surface of the Baltic bubbling up as gas escapes.
Meanwhile police in Sweden have opened a criminal investigation into “gross sabotage” of the Nord Stream 1 and Nord Stream 2 pipelines, and Sweden’s crisis management unit was activated to monitor the situation. The unit brings together representatives from different government agencies.
Swedish Foreign Minister Ann Linde had a call with her Danish counterpart Jeppe Kofod on Tuesday evening, and the pair also spoke with Norwegian Foreign Minister Anniken Huitfeldt on Wednesday, with Kofod saying there should be a “clear and unambiguous EU statement about the explosions in the Baltic Sea.”
“Focus now on uncovering exactly what has happened — and why. Any sabotage against European energy infrastructure will be met with a robust and coordinated response,” said Kofod.
“This is not an attack against Sweden because it is not in our territory. It is an international incident,” Linde said previously.
The government of Finland, which has a long Baltic Sea coastline, will be discussing “foreign and security policy issues” on Wednesday evening.
The country’s foreign minister said Wednesday that they would be looking at shipping movements near the areas where the pipelines are broken, and said he understood Sweden and Denmark’s stance that this is a matter for the whole of the EU “when a central energy network is sabotaged.”
Defense ministers from Sweden, Denmark and Finland have all stated that the pipeline explosions do not pose a military threat.
The European Union has vowed retaliation for any attack on Europe’s energy networks.
“All available information indicates those leaks are the result of a deliberate act,” EU foreign policy chief Josep Borrell said in a statement on behalf of the bloc’s 27 members.
“Any deliberate disruption of European energy infrastructure is utterly unacceptable and will be met with a robust and united response.”
Two leaks were discovered on Nord Stream 1, which Moscow shut down earlier this month in retaliation for Western sanctions over Russia’s war in Ukraine.
Another leak was discovered on Nord Stream 2, which was frozen following Russia’s invasion of Ukraine and has never been operational. — Euronews