OSLO: Norway will receive assistance from Britain, Germany and France to boost offshore security following the damage to the Nord Stream pipelines, Prime Minister Jonas Gahr Stoere said on Friday.

Norway, now Europe’s largest gas supplier and a leading global oil supplier, has over 90 oil and gas fields, most of which are connected to a network of gas pipelines stretching some 9,000 kilometres.

“We’re in a dialogue with our allies regarding increased presence in the Norwegian sector and have said yes to contributions from Germany, France and Britain,” Stoere told a news conference.

Norway is also itself deploying its navy and air force to beef up oil and gas security amid suspicion sabotage was behind the four leaks on the Russian pipelines, a crisis which has triggered a race to protect energy infrastructure and supplies .

Leaks affecting the Nord Stream gas pipelines were caused by underwater blasts equal to ‘hundreds of kilograms of explosives’

“It’s natural that our allies sail alongside our ships,” Stoere said.

He repeated that Norway had no indications of direct threats to Norway or Norwegian infrastructure.

Hundreds of kilos of TNT

The four leaks affecting the Nord Stream gas pipelines were caused by underwater explosions corresponding to hundreds of kilogrammes of explosives, a Danish-Swedish report said on Friday.

“The magnitude of the explosions was measured at 2.3 and 2.1 on the Richter Scale, respectively, probably corresponding to an explosive load of several hundred kilos,” the two countries said in a joint report to the UN Security Council.

Following a request from Russia, the Security Council is due to hold an emergency meeting on the leaks.

“All available information indicates that those explosions are the result of a deliberate act,” the countries said. The source of the explosions has remained a mystery, however, with both Washington and Moscow denying responsibility.

“It cannot be ruled out that this is a reckless attack on Europe’s energy infrastructure and an attempt to destabilise the already tense security situation,” the defence ministers of the Nordic countries — Sweden, Denmark, Norway, Finland and Iceland — said in a joint statement on Friday.

In their report the UN Security Council, Denmark and Sweden said “the possible impact on maritime life in the Baltic Sea is of concern, and the climate effect would likely be very substantial”.

All the leaks, which were discovered on Monday, are in the Baltic Sea off the Danish island of Bornholm.

Two of the leaks are located in the Swedish exclusive economic zone, and the two others in the Danish one.

The Nord Stream 1 and 2 pipelines, which connect Russia to Germany, have been at the centre of geopolitical tensions as Russia cut gas supplies to Europe in suspected retaliation against Western sanctions following Moscow’s invasion of Ukraine.

While the pipelines are not currently in operation, they both still contained gas.

On Thursday, the pipelines operator said it had so far been unable to assess the damage but said it would do so “as soon as it receives necessary official permits”.

Published in Dawn, October 1st, 2022

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