Joint press point

with NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg, the President of the European Commission, Ursula von der Leyen, the Prime Minister of Norway, Jonas Gahr Støre and the CEO of Equinor, Anders Opedal on the Troll Offshore Platform in Norway

  • 17 Mar. 2023 -
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  • Last updated: 17 Mar. 2023 13:10

(As delivered)

First of all, CEO Anders Opedal, it’s a great pleasure to be at this platform again, and I am glad to be here together with Prime Minister Gahr Støre, and together with the President von der Leyen.

These structures are really impressive. And we all know that they help to heat homes and power industry across the Europe. So therefore, gas installations like the Troll platform are vital for our economies, for our industries, but also, therefore, for our security. Because we have seen how President Putin has tried to use energy as a weapon throughout the war against Ukraine. And Norwegian gas has helped to respond to that and ensure that President Putin failed in his attempt to use energy as a weapon. 

Since these structures are so vital, they're also vulnerable. And NATO has addressed the security of offshore installations, of undersea infrastructure, for many years. But now we have stepped up, not least because of the initiative taken by Prime Minister Støre and Chancellor Scholz some months ago to give NATO a stronger role in the efforts of making sure that this vital infrastructure is safe and secure. So I thank Jonas Gahr Støre for the initiative. This has really led to some concrete action within the Alliance. 

Then we also stepped up our cooperation with the European Union. And as President von der Leyen just mentioned, NATO and the European Union have established - we have established - a joint task force that met for the first time yesterday, and we are now stepping up concrete cooperation with the European Union to complement, and to work closer together to ensure critical undersea infrastructure and offshore installations like this platform. 

NATO has also increased its presence with more military capabilities in the North Sea, in the in the Baltic Sea, and also elsewhere. And as we speak, there is a Norwegian coast guard over there, there is a Norwegian helicopter in the air, and there is a German ship behind, and you just saw a maritime patrol aircraft. This is part of NATO's standing Maritime Group, with ships and planes from many different NATO nations, demonstrating how NATO Allies stand together in protecting this vital infrastructure. 

So in a more dangerous world, in a more unpredictable world, it's even more important that we stand together and ensure these kinds of extremely important infrastructure for our economies, for our daily life, and also for our security. So thanks so much again, Ursula, Jonas, and Anders.

The first question is from CNN.

Hi, we’re here. Question to Mr Secretary General and President. You spoke about how important critical infrastructure is, where do you see the main vulnerabilities. How big do you see the threats, the threat specifically from Russia to this critical infrastructure. And then second of all, how much more important has this become especially to the European Union now that most European member states are off Russian gas and turning more towards gas from Norway?

Secretary General 
First of all, this infrastructure is extremely important. It's vital, but that makes it also vulnerable, not least because of the sheer size, we speak about 1000s of kilometres of pipelines, gas and oil, but also other kinds of internet cable, power cables. So in totality, this is an enormous amount of infrastructure, meaning that of course, we cannot protect every metre of this infrastructure at every time, but what we do is that we have stepped up what we do when it comes to exchanging intelligence, information, more closely monitoring the infrastructure, then we have increased our presence with more military capabilities. And then the plan is also now to exercise more, to be able to react fast if something happens. One thing which is illustrated by the task force we have established under the enhanced vigilance, NATO Allies are now showing when it comes to protecting critical undersea infrastructure is that we work more closely with the private sector companies like Equinor, and Equinor and the CO actually went, he came to the NATO Headquarters briefed the North Atlantic Council, because we know that the private companies that have key capabilities which are essential for the protection of this infrastructure, when it comes to ports with European Union, I leave that to Ursula.