Norway will patrol its oil and gas platforms with help from allies, PM says
OSLO, Sept 30 (Reuters) - Norway will receive help from Britain, Germany and France to patrol the seas around its oil and gas platforms amid suspicion that sabotage caused leaks in Nord Stream pipelines earlier this week, Norway's prime minister said on Friday.
Russia's Nord Stream 1 and Nord Stream 2 pipelines burst this week, draining gas into the Baltic Sea off the coast of Denmark and Sweden. Seismologists registered explosions in the area.
The European Union said it suspected sabotage had caused the damage while Russian President Vladimir Putin on Friday accused the United States and its allies of blowing up the pipelines. Washington has said it was too early to confirm it was sabotage, and dismissed talk it was responsible.
Norway, Europe's largest gas supplier and a major oil exporter, has more than 90 petroleum fields, most of which are connected to a network of gas pipelines stretching some 9,000 km (5,590 miles).
Norway is deploying its navy, coast guard and air force to beef up oil and gas security.
"We're in a dialogue with our allies regarding increased presence in the Norwegian (offshore) sector and have said yes to contributions from Germany, France and Britain," Prime Minister Jonas Gahr Stoere told a news conference.
"It's natural that our allies sail alongside our ships," he said.
Stoere did not say how much assistance Norway, a NATO member nation of just 5.4 million people, would receive.
He repeated that the country had no indications of direct threats to Norway or Norwegian infrastructure, but said it was nevertheless prudent to beef up security.
"In this situation, it is safe to have allies," Stoere said.
On Saturday, Norway's prime minister will visit the North Sea Sleipner field, a major source of gas which is piped to Europe.
"I will get a briefing and meet employees on the platform. They are many and they are important," Stoere said.
Reporting by Victoria Klesty; editing by Terje Solsvik and Raissa Kasolowsky
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