Norway knows well that it could be the next target, with its 8,800 kilometers of submarine pipelines. The excitement is palpable in Oslo, since explosions equivalent “hundreds of pounds” of TNT damaged the Nord Stream 1 and 2 gas pipelines in the Baltic Sea.
The concern is shared across Europe: the Scandinavian country has become Europe’s leading supplier of natural gas since the sanctions against Russia. The protection of critical infrastructures will be on the menu of the informal summit of European leaders in Prague on 6 and 7 October.
This year, the Scandinavian country is reaching a record level of exports (122 billion cubic meters of gas this year) approaching the 150 billion cubic meters that Russia supplied to the EU before the war. However, disturbing overflights of drones have taken place in Norway, near oil and gas extraction platforms.
Nobody can say where these machines, several meters long, come from. Intrusions aren’t just about offshore structures. Other drone overflights have also been seen over power plants.
However, the Norwegian army is just acquiring its first antidrone system, after having tested it in March as part of the NATO exercise “Cold Response”. In response, the Norwegian army has beefed up its presence in the North Sea. Three warships and surveillance aircraft were dispatched. Sensors have been installed to detect aerial intrusions.
Oslo is also proposing to double the number of Home Guard reservists to patrol the entire coast. The Norwegian government can also count on European reinforcements. The United Kingdom sent a Royal Navy frigate near the pipelines. France and Germany pledged their support.
Faulty information system
To these flaws are added “vulnerabilities in the security of information systems”, notes Riksrevisionen, the Norwegian equivalent of the Court of Auditors which analyzed the equipment used by the army. The institution highlights in particular the difficulties for the different systems to exchange with each other. “This means it can be more difficult for the defense to manage an attack on Norwegian targets”underlined the head of Riksrevisionen, Karl Erik Schjott-Pedersen, during a presentation.
That’s not all. The Kremlin could already have in its hands documents which should have remained confidential on the Norwegian installations. In 2012, the Russian oil company Rosneft was allowed to establish itself in the country. According to the Norwegian newspaper Aftenpostenthe company run by a close friend of Vladimir Putin had “access to database containing ‘highly sensitive’ information on the Norwegian continental shelf”. Information on the seabed yet so strategic that it is kept in a highly secure underground room, placed under a mountain.