Joint crisis exercise for Nordic transmission system operators and industry authorities - reaching agreement on transnational communication practices is important

The Nordic countries operate in a joint-Nordic electricity market. As a result, it’s essential to prepare for various threats and disturbances that the industry can face and which can also extensively affect other Nordic countries. In the future, the EU’s Risk-preparedness in the electricity sector regulation will require regional cooperation, so the Nordic countries are already pioneers in this area. November’s Black Screen II exercise involved dealing with cyber threats and practising joint communication. The exercise is a continuation of the Black Screen I exercise held in Oslo, Norway in autumn 2017. 

In addition to actual troubleshooting, a key objective of the exercise was to find models and methods for transnational communication. The TSOs in each country and authorities from Finland, Sweden, Denmark, Norway and Iceland practiced from their own workstations – just as they would in a real situation.

Black Screen II emphasised the electricity distribution dependency that exists between the Nordic countries. The scenario developed around a cyber threat was very challenging but realistic. An imaginary situation caused disturbances in each country’s electricity distribution, and communication between the countries was either cut off completely or became significantly more difficult. The participants’ goal was to find a solution to the actual fault situation and, above all, to practice joint communication with the other organisations and the media. The exercise provided a lot of valuable experience.

Regular practice is important

“This exercise demonstrated that we have succeeded in improving our ability to act in a joint-Nordic disturbance situation. During the previous exercises, we have learned to know each other and how each country operates. Harmonisation of the operating methods is visible as smooth joint activities and coordination between the countries,” states Corporate Security Manager Vesa Syrjälä from Fingrid, who was responsible for the practical arrangements related to the exercise.

“The exercise identified several development areas and, based on the observations that were made, we will continue to improve our activities. Energy industry operations are very transnational by nature, and there is good reason for the authorities to maintain contact in the future as well. Communication also played an important role in this sense. Appropriate messages have to be delivered but unnecessary communication traffic must be avoided at the same time. This requires harmonised operating methods,” says Communications Manager Marjaana Kivioja from Fingrid.

The following Finnish actors had primary responsibility for organising the Black Screen II exercise: Fingrid, the Finnish Communications Regulatory Authority and the National Emergency Supply Agency. The participants were the Nordic TSOs and industry authorities from Finland, Sweden, Denmark, Norway and Iceland.

Further information:
Vesa Syrjälä , Corporate Security Manager, Fingrid Oyj, tel. +358 (0)30 395 4236
Marjaana Kivioja, Communications Manager, Fingrid Oyj, tel. +358 (0)30 395 5267