WSJ: Fearing sabotage, Europe patrols pipelines with mine hunters and unmanned subs

    WORLD  26 November 2022 - 12:56

    The Italian navy mine hunter ITS Numana was sailing recently above a pipeline carrying natural gas from North Africa to Europe when its sonar detected a metal object close to the line.

    Until recently, the Italian navy didn’t spend much time inspecting underwater pipelines. That changed on September 26, when explosions ripped through the Nord Stream natural-gas pipelines in the Baltic Sea in an apparent act of sabotage, The Wall Street Journal reports. Since then, protecting the pipelines, energy grids and natural-gas terminals that keep Europe’s lights on and homes heated has become a national-security priority across the continent.

    Protecting Europe’s energy infrastructure is a gargantuan task. There are more than 6,000 miles of gas pipelines that cross Norwegian waters and the Mediterranean Sea, and more than 1,000 offshore oil-and-gas installations in European waters. Energy and security analysts said any attacks on them akin to the Nord Stream blasts would take months, if not years, to fix because of how difficult it is to reach the pipes and the damage seawater can cause.

    Thanks in part to a warm fall, gas storage facilities across Europe are now mostly full. But any gas shortfall this winter risks tipping its economy into a severe recession. Economists have identified two main risks: a prolonged cold snap, and a catastrophic incident at a gas pipeline, reserve storage facility or other crucial piece of infrastructure. Such installations were largely unprotected, making them the softest of targets, security officials said.

    At the time of the blasts, the Nord Stream pipelines weren’t carrying any gas to Europe. Afterward, leaders in Western Europe quickly turned their attention to Norway, now the continent’s biggest provider of the fuel.

    At times the Russian fleet isn’t far behind. When Norwegian and British frigates went on patrol in the southern Barents Sea last month, they were shadowed by Russian navy vessels, according to the Norwegian Armed Forces.

    The Norwegian coast guard’s patrol vessel KV Tor has modified its usual route to pass the onshore oil and gas facilities that dot the western coast. “We take down the speed, use binoculars and radar, and see if there’s something that’s not normal,” said the captain, Jørgen Varpe Wallem.

    On land, armed reservists stand guard outside the Kollsnes gas processing plant and other energy facilities. Coast guard boats patrol around drilling platforms in the North Sea, and companies are using remotely operated underwater vessels to check the pipeline network that carries natural gas to European buyers.

    In Germany, which depended heavily on gas delivered from Russia through Nord Stream, the government said it was boosting police presence on the seas with helicopters and ships. Germany also is securing the floating liquefied natural gas terminals being built to take shipments from the U.S. and elsewhere. Any delay in the expected year-end openings could lead to gas shortages and force the government to ration energy.

    For Italy, a priority is protecting the underwater pipelines that carry gas from North Africa and Azerbaijan. The Italian navy now has a mine hunter and military divers constantly scanning the underwater gas pipelines and telecommunication cables, which often rest more than 3,000 feet below the surface.

    It also is building a database indicating the precise location of objects on the seafloor that have already been investigated, from plastic buckets to dishwashers.

    Since the mission began in late September, no evidence of sabotage has been detected.

    “Does that mean it can’t happen?” said Italian Navy Rear Adm. Riccardo Marchiò, commander of Italy’s mine-hunter force. “No. But our level of readiness is very high, and higher than it’s ever been.”


    Subscribe to our Telegram channel

Read also

Sweden joins global calls to help quake-hit Türkiye, Syria

07 February 2023 - 09:31

Bradley IFVs sent from US to Ukraine arrive in UK

07 February 2023 - 09:38

US President Biden promises assistance to Türkiye

06 February 2023 - 20:56

Ukraine urges IOC to bar Russia from Paris 2024 Olympics

06 February 2023 - 21:18

Zelenskyy recommends Vasyl Malyuk for Ukraine’s security chief

06 February 2023 - 21:00

MPs ask Georgia to let Saakashvili undergo treatment abroad

06 February 2023 - 20:28
Latest news

    Saakashvili's party withdraws from Georgian parliament

    Vows to fight Tbilisi's government

    07 February 2023 - 09:45

    Bradley IFVs sent from US to Ukraine arrive in UK

    07 February 2023 - 09:38

    Sweden joins global calls to help quake-hit Türkiye, Syria

    07 February 2023 - 09:31

    Russia sends mobile hospital to quake-affected areas in Türkiye

    07 February 2023 - 09:25

    Earthquakes in Türkiye cover 10 provinces settled by 13.5 million people

    07 February 2023 - 09:20

    President Biden reaffirms US readiness to help Türkiye respond to quake tragedy

    07 February 2023 - 09:13

    Azerbaijan sends military medical personnel to Türkiye

    07 February 2023 - 09:06

    Azerbaijan sends mobile hospital to quake-affected regions of Türkiye


    07 February 2023 - 09:01

    China begins single-capacity 16 MW turbine, powered wind farm construction

    07 February 2023 - 09:00

    Azerbaijani servicemen accomplish British military course

    07 February 2023 - 08:51

    Qatar sends envoy to Afghan capital to meet with Taliban

    07 February 2023 - 08:46

    Britain still tying shoelaces in global race to dominate green technology

    07 February 2023 - 08:34

    Erdogan declares 7-day national mourning in Türkiye

    07 February 2023 - 08:20

    India to ban Chinese-linked betting and loan lending apps

    07 February 2023 - 08:14

    Europe’s decade of the spy

    Analysis by Politico

    07 February 2023 - 08:03

    Series of deadly earthquakes kill 2,921 in Türkiye


    07 February 2023 - 08:00

    Tidal energy to see major expansion this decade

    07 February 2023 - 07:43

    How Russia decides to go nuclear

    Analysis by Foreign Affairs

    07 February 2023 - 07:32

    Iraqis protest over killing of YouTube star by her father


    07 February 2023 - 07:02

    Will electric cars reach price parity with petrol, diesel cars?

    07 February 2023 - 06:33

    Germany's far-right AfD marks 10 years since its founding


    07 February 2023 - 06:04

    EU deforestation law triggers ire of its trading partners

    07 February 2023 - 05:34

    NHS strike: Re-open pay talks, hospital bosses plead

    07 February 2023 - 05:05

    Turkish construction companies outfoxing China in Africa

    07 February 2023 - 04:35

    Lithuania raises 6 million euro for air defence radars for Ukraine

    07 February 2023 - 04:04

    How to shelter from nuclear explosion


    07 February 2023 - 03:33

    India opposition attacks Modi on silence over Adani allegations

    07 February 2023 - 03:03

    US warns Türkiye on exports seen to boost Russia's war effort

    07 February 2023 - 02:32

    Germany's Scholz pledges rapid onshore wind power expansion

    07 February 2023 - 02:01

    China’s ultra-fast economic recovery

    Analysis by The Economists

    07 February 2023 - 01:31

    Bipolar currency regime to replace the dollar’s exorbitant privilege

    07 February 2023 - 01:02

    Masdar opens office in Azerbaijan to support nation's clean energy objectives

    07 February 2023 - 00:32

    Romania wants to buy Caspian gas

    07 February 2023 - 00:01

    Pentagon sees warship boondoggle. Congress sees jobs

    Analysis by The New York Times

    06 February 2023 - 23:33

    Problem of logistics: is the US sending Ukraine the wrong tank?

    Analysis by Financial Times

    06 February 2023 - 23:03

    EU’s natural gas cuts likely to spill into next year

    06 February 2023 - 22:32

    Russia’s technocrats keep funds flowing for Vladimir Putin’s war

    06 February 2023 - 22:01

    How India earns each rupee, where it goes

    06 February 2023 - 21:44

    Financial Times: How spy balloon pops US-China rapprochement

    Opinion by Gideon Rachman

    06 February 2023 - 21:31

    Ukraine urges IOC to bar Russia from Paris 2024 Olympics

    06 February 2023 - 21:18

    Presidential aide meets with international travelers

    06 February 2023 - 21:11

    Zelenskyy recommends Vasyl Malyuk for Ukraine’s security chief

    06 February 2023 - 21:00

    US President Biden promises assistance to Türkiye

    06 February 2023 - 20:56

    Turkish Cargo to deliver humanitarian aid to disaster area for free

    06 February 2023 - 20:49

    Azerbaijan, UK discuss Baku-Yerevan peace process

    06 February 2023 - 20:42

All news