Norwegian police have opened an investigation following new reports of new drone sightings around oil and gas facilities, this time at the Kaarsto processing plant, from where natural gas is exported directly to Germany via the Europipe 2 pipeline.
According to local newspaper Stavanger Aftenblad, the drone spotting at Kaarsto took place at 9:30 pm on Thursday, triggering police investigations.
The police department in the southwest region of Norway told Upstream that gas infrastructure-related incidents fall under their "emergency preparedness area".
“The police are investigating the unidentified drone spotted near Kaarsto, but we cannot go into details about which information we have. We do not have any suspect at the moment, “ a police spokesperson said.
"The South Western Police District is aware of the infrastructure within gas supply nationally and internationally that is in our emergency preparedness area.
“The current security situation means that this focus has been sharpened. We do not wish to comment on our preparedness for this. The police have received assistance regard to security, and this continues.”
A spate of unidentified drone sightings near gas fields offshore Norway occurred around the same time that major leaks were detected on the Russian-controlled Nord Stream pipelines two weeks ago, and since.
The incidents have raised concerns about the security of installations in a nation that is a major supplier of natural gas to Europe.
Norway’s Ministry of Petroleum & Energy has not yet responded to a question by Upstream on whether authorities intend to take any additional security measures keep drones away from strategically important energy installations.
Ukraine war fallout
With Norway now playing a critically important role as gas supplier to Europe due to the diminishing role of Russian imports following the conflict in Ukraine, Oslo has been urged to tighten security around energy infrastructure.
Gas is routed by pipeline from the Asgard and Gullfaks fields to the Kaarsto processing plant near Stavanger and exported via Europipe 2 to Germany, where security checks were conducted last week by Equinor.
The Norwegian energy major deployed a specialist vessel to inspect a subsea gas pipeline to Germany on 7 October, responding to safety concerns following the Nord Stream sabotage incidents in late September.
A spokesperson for Equinor said that he security level has been raised for installations and infrastructure offshore Norway and added: “As a precautious measure, we have taken some actions relating to the pipeline network.”
Gassco, the operator of the gas transport system on the Norwegian continental shelf, is also responsible for ensuring the safety of this system.
“As a precautionary [step], we have initiated measures related to the pipe network, but cannot go into details around these,” a Gaasco spokesperson told Upstream.
* This article was updated on 14 October to include comments from the Norwegian police.