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LONDON (Reuters) - NATO is talking to oil and gas producing companies and countries about how it could help combat security threats to energy infrastructure, a senior NATO official said on Monday.
Jamie Shea, Director of Policy Planning in the Private Office of the NATO Secretary General, said the likely measures would involve providing sea-borne rapid reaction forces to combat attacks on facilities, hostage taking and piracy in Africa, Asia and the Middle East.
"In NATO, we are looking very actively at using our maritime resources ... to see how we can link up with oil companies," Shea told a conference in London.
Shea said he had discussed the issue with Royal Dutch Shell Plc and London-based BP Plc, the second and third-largest western oil companies in the world by market value, respectively.
While the companies were beefing up their own security measures to face what is seen to be an increasing threat from civil strife and terrorism, they were keen to receive help with intelligence, Shea said.
NATO is also in talks with Qatar about how it could help secure the Gulf state's large liquefied natural gas (LNG) facilities.
LNG is gas cooled to liquid and transported under pressure in specially constructed tankers. LNG facilities are seen as a particular security risk because of the pressurised gas.
NATO is not yet in talks with Saudi Arabia but may be prepared to help there as well, Shea said.
Other areas NATO could be able to help included fighting hostage-taking in Nigeria where workers are being seized from oil facilities on an almost daily basis and piracy in Asia.