Norway’s offshore watchdog has urged “increased vigilance” after unidentified drones were spotted near North Sea platforms.
The Petroleum Safety Authority (PSA) says there has recently been a spike in the recorded number of observations of drones or aircraft on the Norwegian Continental Shelf (NCS).
And the organisation has called for operators and vessel owner to keep their wits about them.
It is understood that Equinor (LON: EQNR) is one of those to have notified the PSA about drone sightings.
According to reports, unknown objects have been sighted near the Johan Sverdrup platform, while local newspaper Stavanger Aftenblad reported that one was seen near to the Heidrun platform.
Drones present a raft of potential risks as they can impacting helicopter traffic, collide with an installation, or even present a deliberate attack.
A safety zone, in which unauthorised vessels or aircraft are prohibited or restricted from remaining, transiting or operating, is in pace around all platforms on the NCS.
It tends to extend 500 metres out from the facility, and from 500, above the highest point on the platform.
Infringing a safety zone may be punishable by law.
In a letter to operators, the PSA said: “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.
“We would urge all operators and vessel owners on the NCS to show increased vigilance, and would remind them that warning and notification of observations must be made to us pursuant to section 58 of the framework regulations on warning and notification in connection with entry into safety zones.”
The warning form the PSA comes amid a heightening of tensions between Russia and other European nations.
Images of leaks from the Nord Stream 1 and 2 pipelines were circulated far and wide yesterday, with speculation about potential sabotage.
In a subsequent statement, the PSA said: “The PSA does not wish to speculate about the causes of these leakages. Dealing with current position is up to the authorities in the respective countries. Questions concerning the protection of Norway’s national safety with regard to the pipelines must be put to the Ministry of Petroleum and Energy.”