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The Norwegian police are investigating a number of sightings of unidentified drones in the vicinity of oil and gas platforms on the Norwegian Continental Shelf.
The newspaper Stavanger Aftenblad reported that the South Norwegian Police directorate had started an investigation into what looks like at least six different sightings of drones.
Amund Preede Revheim, section head of North Sea/Environment of the South Norwegian police district, stated that “We have launched an investigation to gain clarity as to whether drones have been observed, where the drones may be flying in relation to the installations, what the intention is, and who is behind it.”
Equinor representative Per Steinar Stamnes confirmed that a drone was seen just 50 meters from the Heidrun platform this Tuesday and that last Saturday, a drone was spotted near the Kristin field. According To Kjetil Stormark of Aldrimer.no, a drone was also spotted violating the 500-meter safety zone at the Gina Krog gas field last weekend. The strategically important Gina Krog gas field is located around 30 kilometers northwest of the Sleipner A field, which exports natural gas to Europe. An Equinor spokesperson confirmed the drone sighting on Saturday, stating that "We are in dialogue with the Norwegian authorities regarding the drone observations offshore.”
Image courtesy: Norsk Petroleum
Even though all incidents have been reported to the authorities, there has not yet been a formal response from the federal Norwegian government.
Other recent, mysterious drone observations reported by Aldrimer.no include sightings near the strategically important Johan Sverdrup field, Gullfaks C, and Snorre A field last week. Stormark adds that the distances at which the drones have been spotted are very large and that at least one of the drones was spotted near a Russian fishing vessel that departed from the Faroe Islands, making its way to the Russian semi-exclave of Kaliningrad.
While there’s no clear evidence about the flight path, origin, or purpose of the spotted drones, the recent activity comes at a time when Russia is using energy as a tool to pressure Europe, and the Kremlin is aware that any (minor) disruption of gas flows to Europe could send prices soaring.
By Tom Kool for Oilprice.com
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Tom majored in International Business at Amsterdam’s Higher School of Economics, he is Oilprice.com's Head of Operations