Statement by Prime Minister Støre at a press conference about the gas leak in the Baltic Sea

On Monday, significant damage was discovered on the Nord Stream 1 and 2 pipelines that go from Russia to Europe. The information we have received has reinforced suspicions that the damage is the result of a deliberate act of sabotage.

My Swedish and Danish colleagues have indicated that they have drawn the same conclusion, based on what we know now.

This has created a very serious situation; from the immediate impacts of a major gas leak in the Baltic Sea to all the ramifications of an incident of this kind.

This potential act of sabotage has taken place against a backdrop of war and an energy crisis in Europe.

Over the past few days I have been in close contact with my Nordic colleagues, the German Chancellor, the President of the European Commission, NATO’s Secretary General and other allies about this incident and how to respond. The EU has issued a statement, and the matter is being discussed today in the North Atlantic Council.

The message we have communicated to our allies is consistent with what has been said by the Danish and Swedish authorities:

We view this as a very serious situation. This appears to have been a deliberate act of sabotage.

Norway is aware of the special responsibilities it has to safeguard security on the Norwegian continental shelf, and as Europe’s largest supplier of gas.

It is now crucial for Europe and NATO to stand together. We must determine exactly what has happened and who is behind it, but this may take some time.

Following the incidents in the Baltic Sea, it is only natural that we should focus more attention on the security of Norwegian oil and gas infrastructure.

I understand that many Norwegians find it unsettling when something like this happens. The Government is taking this situation extremely seriously.

As a result of the war in Ukraine, the threat of espionage against Norway is higher than normal, and already last winter, the Government introduced a large number of preparedness measures in order to monitor and mitigate potential threats.

Even though there are no indications of any direct threats specifically aimed at Norway, the Government has taken steps to strengthen preparedness since the war broke out.

A wide range of military and civilian measures have been implemented.

This spring we provided an additional NOK 3 billion in funding for the Norwegian Armed Forces. This has enabled the Navy and Coast Guard to maintain a greater presence in Norwegian waters and to conduct more training and exercises, and it has enhanced our capacity to receive Allied reinforcements.

The Government has allocated NOK 500 million to strengthen civil protection, including increasing efforts to counter foreign intelligence activities, sabotage and influence from foreign countries.

Measures have also been taken to enhance our resilience to digital threats and cyber attacks. The police, the Norwegian Police Security Service (PST) and the Norwegian National Security Authority (NSM) play a key role in this context.

Funding has been allocated for a new centre to promote closer cooperation between the police and PST on understanding threats and on how to optimise use of their respective policy instruments to address those threats.

Security on the Norwegian continental shelf has also been increased. Key companies in the petroleum sector are now required to comply with certain provisions of the Security Act, and key personnel in these companies are required to have security clearance. This allows the security services to share classified information about potential security threats with the companies on an ongoing basis.

‘Control of Norwegian oil and gas production’ has now been designated as a fundamental national function alongside many other vital societal functions. This means that activities on the Norwegian continental shelf have been identified as particularly crucial for our country, allowing us to employ a broader range of measures to protect them.

The Government has also decided to designate ‘transport of gas in pipelines to Europe’ as a fundamental national function. This is a reflection of the current threat situation.

The authorities and petroleum companies will now be able to cooperate even more closely and effectively on implementing the right measures to safeguard our oil and gas installations and the personnel working on them. There are many of them, and they are important.

In response to the incidents in the Baltic Sea, the Government decided yesterday to further heighten preparedness in relation to infrastructure, onshore facilities and installations on the Norwegian continental shelf.

Not just to prevent another incident like the ones we have seen in the Baltic Sea, but also to mitigate other potential threats that may still materialise via cyberspace or in other ways.

There have been reports of increased drone activity on the Norwegian continental shelf in recent weeks, and this is another reason why we are now strengthening preparedness there.

We are monitoring this drone activity closely, and there will also be a police investigation. There are drones of various sizes involved, and we have observed abnormally high drone activity on the Norwegian continental shelf recently. The level of activity has been increasing, particularly in September. The Norwegian police are actively investigating this activity in close cooperation with other relevant actors.

Let me stress once again that we have no concrete indications of any direct threats to Norwegian oil and gas installations, but the companies and the Norwegian authorities are cooperating closely to increase security.

I would also like to stress that we have given high priority to the security of petroleum installations for decades. These efforts have been further strengthened in recent years and months, and now also in the past 24 hours.

It is the companies operating on the Norwegian continental shelf that have primary responsibility for ensuring security at their installations, as set out in the Norwegian Petroleum Act, because they have both the necessary expertise and the resources required to implement appropriate measures. The companies are cooperating closely with national security authorities, such as the police and the Norwegian Armed Forces.

This cooperation is further cemented by the fact that the companies are also subject to parts of the Security Act.

In general there is a high level of security on the Norwegian continental shelf, and the companies are doing all they can to maintain secure operations.

Earlier today it was announced that Equinor and a number of other companies have increased preparedness at their installations. This is in response to the message sent out by the Petroleum Safety Authority on Monday to petroleum producers and shipowners on the Norwegian continental shelf asking them to be extra vigilant.

The Petroleum Safety Authority is responsible for following up security and preparedness measures in order to prevent deliberate attacks and acts of terrorism, and for carrying out inspections to ensure that the companies are complying with the required procedures.

It is the task of the police to protect and safeguard both offshore and onshore infrastructure in the event of an incident.

Directly after the invasion of Ukraine, the police introduced measures to increase preparedness in relation to Norwegian oil and gas installations. The police have now further heightened preparedness and implemented additional measures. We have been given thorough briefings along the way. On several occasions the police have asked for and received assistance from the Armed Forces. There is close and effective cooperation between the police and the Armed Forces.

Last winter, the Armed Forces implemented a number of emergency preparedness measures, and are now taking further steps to strengthen preparedness. As a result of the incidents in the Baltic Sea, the Armed Forces will now maintain a more visible presence in the areas close to our oil and gas installations.

Neither the police, the Armed Forces nor the petroleum companies wish to release details about the specific steps taken to increase security. Disclosing information about these measures could undermine security. However, such measures may include increased guard patrols as well as enhanced maritime, subsea and air surveillance and monitoring of the internet.

In closing, I would like to reiterate:

What has happened in the Baltic Sea is very serious.

I understand that people are concerned about the potential ramifications, and whether a similar incident could affect Norwegian oil and gas installations and the many people working on them.

There is no indication of any direct threats aimed at Norway or Norwegian infrastructure.

But we must stay in close contact with our neighbours, allies, partners, companies. And we must remain vigilant. We must not be naive. This is why we have strengthened our preparedness.

The petroleum companies and the authorities are working together closely to safeguard security.