Britain launches urgent security review of North Sea energy pipelines after Russian 'sabotage'

Gas leak at the Nord Stream 2 gas pipeline - DANISH DEFENCE/AFP via Getty Images
Gas leak at the Nord Stream 2 gas pipeline - DANISH DEFENCE/AFP via Getty Images

Security around Britain's oil and gas pipelines is being urgently reviewed after Vladimir Putin was accused of sabotage following "unprecedented" damage to undersea links between Russia and Europe.

The energy industry is discussing with Government officials how to protect North Sea oil and gas rigs and pipelines after underwater explosions damaged Nord Stream 1 and 2 causing four leaks.

Industry representatives are also speaking to their peers in Norway after unidentified drones were spotted flying near Norwegian oil and gas rigs following the Nord Stream ruptures.

Four leaks have now been discovered on the Nord Stream lines near Sweden and Denmark. The cause is not yet known, but the EU, Nato and the US say they appear to have been sabotaged.

It comes amid an escalating energy war between Europe and Russia over Putin’s invasion of Ukraine. The Kremlin has deemed “stupid” suggestions it might be behind the attack.

Mark Wilson, operations director Offshore Energies UK trade group, said industry did not have any evidence of unusual activity in UK areas giving rise to any specific concern, but wanted to make sure it was prepared.

Authorities in Norway, which is Britain’s largest supplier of gas, on Tuesday urged oil and gas operators to be vigilant, warning drones could pose a risk of accidents or attacks. On Wednesday, the Norwegian Prime Minister said it would deploy its military to protect its oil and gas installations.

Mr Wilson said: “We want to make sure that we can act in a manner that is proportionate, is pragmatic and is prepared.

“So we're engaged, we are reaching out to our members, primarily the operating community, to have conversations about what control measures they currently have in place.

“We’ll also be holding a sharing and learning session and incorporating sharing and learning from Norway, in relation to is there anything else we could and should be doing to be prepared from a physical security perspective.

“If there’s good practice adopted by Norway or by different operators, we are making sure we can baseline ourselves. At this moment, it’s about reviewing what we have in place and knowledge-sharing.

"We have reached out and connected to the business department, who are connected with the Center for the Protection of National Infrastructure."

He added offshore rigs already have well-tested security arrangements, including 500m exclusion zones for boats.

Neither Nord Stream pipeline was in use at the time of the suspected blasts, they were filled with gas that has been spewing out and bubbling to the surface of the Baltic Sea since Monday.

The European Union on Wednesday promised a "robust" response to any intentional disruption of its energy infrastructure.