Drones, Oil Platform | Drones on oil platforms: Many are said to have flown within 500 meters of the platforms

– I cannot quantify the number of observations, but there are several observations related to different fields. These observations were made over the course of several months, says Section Chief Amund Revheim at the North Sea and Environment Section in the Sør-West Police District in Nettavisen.

It was the website Never again who first wrote about drone observations on the Norwegian continental shelf. Sources told the website that observations had been made in Gullfaks camp, Johan Sverdrup camp, and Snorre camp. This week he wrote Stavanger Aftenblad that observations had also been made at Kristin’s camp. Revheim does not want to say where the observations were made.

– This is a thorough investigation, in which we are working to get more detailed answers as to whether the drones were observed, who operated them and what is the reason for flying the drones in the safe zone around the installations, he says Revheim.

Police are investigating possible violations of the oil law. The same law applies if activists or others get too close to the platforms. The law states that it is forbidden to travel within 500 meters of oil plants without the approval of the responsible company.

– Most likely they are drones

Revheim does not specifically want to say whether the police have photos or other documentation of what has moved near the platforms. However, he says the police believe the information is reliable.

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

– We think it very likely that these were operated by ships, but we do not rule out other possibilities, he says.

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

Although Norwegian platforms are located in the Norwegian Economic Zone, they are not located 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 get closer to important installations for NATO countries. Nettavisen has already written about Russian GUGI ships suspected of stealing a Norwegian surveillance cable in 2021. Russia claims that GUGI ships are only deep-sea research vessels, but are referred to as spy vessels by several Western sources.

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

PST follows the investigation

Senior Counselor Martin Bernsen in the Police Security Service tells Nettavisen that they are aware of the incidents.

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

– After the outbreak of the war in Ukraine, we must expect more intelligence pressure on Norway.

Naval Academy researcher and teacher Ståle Ulriksen does not comment on the quality of the drone observations that have now been made in the North Sea, but says the risk to Norwegian oil and gas installations has never been as great as it is now.

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

Russia perceives that it is at war with NATO. We therefore have strategically important gas production in the North Sea which has never been more important for Europe than it is now.

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

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

Don’t believe in attacks on the platform

But Ulriksen does not believe that any Russian action will be directed directly to a platform. Rather, he believes 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 decline responsibility.

– I think he is a little unaware that Norway is dealing with such large resources and knows how important they are, while at the same time taking small measures to defend the resources, says Ulriksen.

He says it shouldn’t be unnatural if other NATO countries were also involved in securing North Sea installations. The researcher imagines that a separate NATO headquarters could be established in western Norway, with the responsibility of securing the shelf.

Read also: Russian activity along the Norwegian coast is worrying

One of the big operators, Equinor, is very thrifty with comments on the drone activity they have reported. Nor do they mean 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 safety authorities, central partners and suppliers, regarding the risk assessments and safety measures related to our business, says spokesperson Eskil Eriksen.

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

We believe that the level of security on the Norwegian continental shelf is high. But as long as events happen, we always have to improve, she says.

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