Europe’s increased dependence on Norway’s oil and gas has made the country’s energy installations more at risk of attack, the head of one of the agencies charged with securing them told Reuters on Monday.
Norway in 2022 overtook Russia as Europe’s biggest supplier of natural gas as Moscow’s invasion of Ukraine upended decades-long energy ties and sent prices soaring.
“I am concerned about dependency, and there is no doubt that Europe has become more dependent on Norwegian gas,” Lars Christian Aamodt, head of the National Security Authority, said in an interview.
“As soon as the dependency increases, so will the threat and the risk,” he said, speaking after Norway’s three intelligence agencies presented their respective annual threat assessments.
Aamodt’s agency said European dependency on Norwegian oil and gas could rise further should conflicts in the Middle East disrupt the petroleum market.
In addition, Norwegian oil and gas installations could be hit by “accidents, physical sabotage and destructive cyberattacks”, the country’s military intelligence service (E-service) said in its separate report.
Russian surveillance and mapping of Norwegian infrastructure is continuing as “business as usual”, Admiral Nils Andreas Stensoenes, director of the E-service, told Reuters.
“They continue the surveillance program and that is also very, very little affected by the war [in Ukraine],” he added.
An incident last October under the Baltic Sea, when a seabed gas pipeline and a telecom cable connecting Finland and Estonia were damaged, was an “eye opener” about the risk of sabotage, the head of the police security agency said.
“It has raised awareness for many, also in Norway,” PST Chief Beate Gangaas told Reuters.
Finnish police have named Chinese container ship NewNew Polar Bear as the prime suspect, saying its anchor dragged across the seabed. They have yet to conclude whether it was an accident or a deliberate act.
Two more cables, one connecting Sweden and Estonia and a Russian one, were also damaged around that time.