The Danish police were reportedly alerted to drone activity near a gas field in the North Sea this weekend, a spokesperson has said. It comes after the Ministry of Defence said it sent a Royal Navy frigate to patrol these waters following suspected sabotage on the Nord Stream gas pipelines last week in order to fend off another attack. The drones were reportedly spotted in the Roar field, which lies right next to Denmark’s biggest gas called, both operated by France’s TotalEnergies.
TotalEnergies claims it also witnessed “unauthorized drone activity” near one of its other offshore oil and gas networks in the Halfdan B field in the North Sea.
Denmark had already put on red alert and raised its emergency preparedness level for its energy sector following the attack on Russia’s pipelines, which occurred in its waters. Some experts have speculated that the systems may have been targeted by underwater drones in a premeditated act of sabotage.
A British Defence told Sky News last week that the damage was underwater explosive devices can be detonated remotely, sparking concerns that other energy infrastructure could be targeted.
Meanwhile, in Norway, unidentified drones were also spotted near offshore installations off the coast, according to the Norwegian energy-security agency. Norway’s Petroleumstilsynet said in a letter on Friday, September 23: “Operator companies on the Norwegian continental shelf (NCS) have recently given warnings/notifications of a number of observations concerning unidentified drones/aircraft close to offshore installations.”
Now, a frigate, which is most likely to be the Type 23 HMS Somerset, is in the North Sea area and working with the Norweigan army to defend the area.
The Ministry of Defence said on Twitter: “A Royal Navy frigate is in the North Sea, working with the Norwegian Navy to reassure those working near the gas pipelines.”
The Government is also now set to acquire “two specialist ships” to patrol and protect critical undersea cables that Britain’s energy and internet networks rely on amid fears of a repeated attack.
Defence Secretary Ben Wallace said: “The first multi-role survey ship for seabed warfare will be purchased by the end of this year, fitted out here in the UK and then operational before the end of next year.”
The most likely suspect of the Nord Stream attacks according to the West is Russia, despite allegedly sabotaging its own system. Ukrainian presidential adviser Mykhaylo Podolyak has called the move a “clear act of aggression against the EU” by Russia.
He tweeted: “Gas leak from NS-1 [Nord Stream 1] is nothing more than a terrorist attack planned by Russia and an act of aggression towards the EU. Russia wants to destabilise the economic situation in Europe and cause pre-winter panic.”
Meanwhile, a Danish investigation has found that the leaks from the pipelines measured more than one kilometre in diameter, prompting the country’s Prime Minister Mette Frederiksen to called conclude that what happened to the Nord Stream pipelines were “deliberate actions” and “not an accident”.
Now, NATO allies have also joined forces to help Norway, the UK’s main gas supplier protect its critical gas and electricity infrastructure. A spokesperson for Norway’s Ministry of Defence told Upstream that the Norwegian Armed Forces are working with European NATO allies to develop “a coordinated” response in securing critical energy infrastructure on the Norwegian Continental Shelf (NCS).
There are also concerns that Russia may target a similar leak to the major pipelines connecting the UK and Norway, such as the Langeled pipeline, which could deal a huge blow to Britain.
But John Baldwin from CNG Services told Express.co.uk last week that Putin may have already laid the groundwork for sabotage. He said: “The worry is obviously that he could have put similar mines around the Norwegian gas pipelines that come to the UK and the UK pipelines and cables.
“That’s almost like the message isn’t it, ‘I’ve mined my own pipes in international waters, but I might as well have mined your pipes and you’ll never find those mines. If you keep helping Ukraine one day they might go and you won’t have any gas at all.’
The UK’s ambassador to the UN, has called on the international organisation to “establish clear international norms that such damage is utterly unacceptable”.
He added that the “UK will continue to work alongside our partners to protect Europe’s energy security”, after warning that the “the damage to the Nord Stream 1 and Nord Stream 2 pipelines in the Baltic Sea is of deep concern”.
This is a breaking story. More to follow.