". . . and Norway is Shipping." Coined by Norway's Minister of Trade and Industry, Ansgar Gabrielsen, this phrase emphasizes the importance of the shipping and maritime industries not only in Norway's economy - they form Norway's second-largest export earner and its largest service exporter - but also in terms of its national image and history. In 2005 the country is set to celebrate its 100th year as a leading maritime power, having won independence from Sweden in 1905. But with a coastline stretching some 21,347 kilometres, Norwegians have for thousands of years characteristically been a people of the sea.
Norwegians' long history as builders of sturdy boats for fishing, coastal transport and later voyages of exploration certainly equipped the country to be the best. And the entrepreneurial spirit of the Vikings lives on; there are few nations in the world that can boast such a diversified maritime industry. Norway is renowned for the exceptional quality of its products, the competence of its services sector, the expertise of its shipbuilders and the commercial savvy of its shipowners. The country has certainly earned the right to call itself a maritime superpower. Clear thinking and cost-efficient practices are the name of the game in today's rollercoaster trading environment, where freight rates can skyrocket one year and plummet the next, not to mention the greater threat to maritime security posed by terrorism.
Norwegian Shipping Facts and Figures
- Norway is Europe's leading maritime nation and controls one of the top four largest fleets in the world - 1,659 ships of 43.9 million dead weight tonnes in 2003.
- With only 0.1 % of the world's population and 1 % of world trade, Norway still controls around 13 % of the global fleet.
- Norway controls 23 % of the world's cruise ships, 19 % of its gas carriers,19 % of the chemical tanker fleet and around 11 % of all crude oil tankers.
- Norway's maritime (shipbuilding, ship's equipment and shipping services) industry has an annual turnover of around NOK 200 billion (USD 28.5 billion).
- Norwegian shipping companies alone were responsible for NOK 109 billion (USD 15.5 billion) of turnover in 2001.
- Around 60 % of Norwegian maritime products and services are exported.
- Maritime businesses account for around 20 % of Norway's total exports.
- Some 80,000 to 100,000 people are employed in Norway's maritime industries.
- Norway controls around 15 % of the world's offshore-related supply sector.
- Norwegian ship's gear exports account for around 8 % to 10 % of the global market.
- Annual export revenues for Norway's commercial shipping are in the region of NOK 52 billion (USD 7.4 billion).
- Norwegian ships transport around 110 million tonnes of cargo every year.
- Norwegian-registered and controlled ships made a total of 90,000 port calls worldwide in 2002, a 4 % increase from 2001 and a full 33 % increase from 1990.
- Norway has 1,700 dedicated shipping companies and a further 1,670 companies that are involved the maritime industry.
- The Norwegian fleet has a combined value of some USD 23 billion in 2003.
- A total of 44,500 seafarers were employed on Norwegian-controlled ships in 2003.
Committed to Quality Shipping
Shipowners worldwide are steadily renewing their fleets as vessels age and fail to meet the tough demands of classification societies, image-conscious charterers and port state control authorities. Quality shipping is at the top of the agenda for Norwegian shipowners, as well as the government. The Norwegian government, for example, fully backs the European Union's decision to ban single-hull tankers trading in European waters in the wake of the sinking of the 1981-built Prestige, which went down off the northwest coast of Spain in 2002. With the catastrophic environmental damage the Prestige sinking caused, and the still painful memory of the pollution stemming from the Erika accident off the coast of France in 1999, politicians have had to bow to public pressure. People at large are now much more aware of shipping issues than at any time in recent history. The EU ban came into effect in October 2003 in the 15 member states and a further 28 countries will adopt the phase-out programme by May 2004. The ruling requires that heavy fuel oil, heavy crudes, used oil, bitumen and tar only be transported in double-hull tankers. For its part, Norway has introduced an updated ports-of-refuge plan that should make a repeat of the Prestige highly unlikely along the Norwegian coastline.
The silver lining in the Prestige cloud is that it has provided a fresh impetus for quality shipping as the only way to safeguard the environment. Norway continues to stand out as a frontrunner when it comes to the environmental realm, and it is a major contributor to the formulation of international maritime policies and a driving force in the continual hunt for new solutions to ensure safety and protect maritime biodiversity, while at the same time streamlining efficiency. The Norwegian Shipowners' Association (NSA), together with the Research Council of Norway, is currently making a significant contribution with its Maritime Environmental Research programme (MARMIL) - which is designed to give impetus to environmentally-friendly vessel design, make environmental investments profitable for the owner and ensure that environmentally-aware vessel operations "from cradle to grave" translate into a competitive advantage. Quality shipping must be financially advantageous, and this represents both a challenge and an opportunity for Norwegian companies in their pursuit of cutting-edge solutions in design, propulsion, navigation and communications for a new generation of safe, strong ships. It also goes hand-in-hand with the Norwegian maritime industry's growing focus on corporate social responsibility and efforts to promote the public image of shipping - which is, in fact, the most environmentally-friendly mode of transport that exists and currently the most environmentally-regulated industry in the world.
Norwegian shipyards and ship's gear manufacturers have also responded quickly to the dynamic current of change within the global shipping industry in attitudes and actions governing safety and the environment. They offer reliable products and services that are contributing to industry standards for environmental technology, along with a host of other solutions to help vessels and their crews face the rigours of service at sea. Reducing emissions and marine pollution, while saving lives and property, is paramount for Norway's maritime industry. Norwegian merchant ships have been judged the safest and cleanest in the world - which is consistent with Norway's leadership stance advocating the implementation of stricter rules and regulations, such as the International Safety Management (ISM) Code drawn up by the International Maritime Organization (IMO). Phase II of the code came into effect in July 2002 and requires that all vessels above 500 gross tonnes carry a valid safety management system certificate and a copy of its owner's document of compliance. Without them, port state control authorities will detain the ship and suspend its license to operate.
Superior quality can safely be said to be the hallmark of Norwegian-made ship's equipment and services. In product development and business practice, Norway has adopted the ISO 9000 quality management standards and increasingly the latest ISO 14000 environmental management standards. Quality assurance and control procedures are applied to ensure that products are designed, manufactured, installed and commissioned in the appropriate ways, and all equipment that is used in or under water has to undergo strict testing.
All Norwegian shipping companies have implemented safety management systems that reduce the chances of human error, provide improved communications, reduce the risk of personal injuries and pollution, and facilitate safe cargo handling and shipment. Norwegian outfitters are also in the race to be clean, and thanks in part to technological advances in electronic monitoring, alarm and control systems by Norwegian companies, the shipping industry's record continues to improve. There is still a long way to go, but Norway's national mantra of clean, safe sailing gives the country a competitive edge and sets the example for other nations.
Promoting Seafarer Welfare
Quality shipping is not only about the hardware; it also concerns people. In recognition of Norway's leading position in championing improved working conditions for seafarers, Norway has been invited by the International Labour Organization (ILO) to host an important international meeting in 2005 to discuss the implementation of a revised framework convention governing seafarers' remuneration, employee and employer rights and obligations, identity papers and general welfare standards. It will be the first such conference to have been held outside the UN agency's headquarters in Geneva. At the behest of the Norwegian Maritime Directorate, Norway has approved almost all ILO conventions and striven to implement those regulations in its own national laws. Elsewhere, the NSA in November 2002 received formal recognition for its members' work on behalf of Filipino seafarers, winning Philippine President Gloria Macapagal Arroyo's Award of Honour. Norway began to prepare a regulatory framework for the employment of Filipino seafarers in 1987, and in 1990 began to educate and qualify Filipino seamen to serve on Norwegian vessels. Today 20,000 Filipino seafarers work onboard Norwegian ships and Norway has played a central role in the development of The Philippines maritime industry.
The bulk of the world's large commercial tonnage, from box ships to VLCC tankers and Floating Production, Storage and Offloading (FPSO) vessels, is built today in the Far East - in Japan, South Korea and, increasingly, China. Traditional shipbuilding industries in Europe lost out some time ago to the low labour costs and competitiveness of Far Eastern shipbuilders, and industries in countries such as the UK shrunk to a fraction of their size from 50 years ago. Although a handful of Norwegian shipping companies operate large commercial vessels, Norway itself has never been a builder of big ships and its shipbuilding industry has not experienced a massive decline similar to that of the UK. On the contrary, it has steadily grown over the years. Norwegian yards have historically concentrated on the production of fishing vessels and smaller tonnage for a wide range of applications, from offshore supply ships to chemical carriers and military vessels. Today, Norwegian yards can accommodate newbuildings of up to 45,000 deadweight tonnes. The focus is on designing and building specialized ships equipped with advanced, highly integrated systems for propulsion, manoeuvring, monitoring and technical reporting, cargo handling, and the latest electronic navigation and ship-to-shore communications solutions. Norwegian yards are also known for the strength of their project management and quality control, providing a good working environment for their staff and getting vessels delivered on time.
|Rovde Shipping's Ocean Challenger cable laying vessel built by Søviknes Yard.
Norway has a dedicated shipbuilding association, Norwegian Shipbuilders, a sales and marketing-oriented organization with 45 shipyard members. It represents a unified yet internally competitive group that is continually driven to find new ways to reduce costs and deliver custom-designed ships of the highest quality. The organization also acts as a central hub to help shipowner clients from around the world evaluate and decide on the best available option - as all members compete with each other on price.
Staying Ahead of the Game
Competitiveness is the central issue for Norway's shipyards and ship's gear manufacturers alike. As shipowners the world over assess the total life-cycle costs of equipment in their purchasing strategies, suppliers are compelled to seek new ways to reduce costs and to create advanced, labour-saving solutions that will contribute to their own and their clients' competitive edge. At the same time, shipyard customers conscious of their bottom line are demanding multi-system packages from either a single-source supplier or a small group of suppliers working together in turnkey contract arrangements. This has necessitated an increased sharing of knowledge across the industry and a hard-to-match spirit of design innovation. Norwegian ship's gear manufacturers are also increasingly entering into joint ventures in production and licensing agreements that improve productivity, cost-efficiency and market share; at home and abroad. But while cooperation pacts abound, small independent companies nevertheless flourish by working closely with agents and distributors worldwide to meet the needs of the market.
The Spirit of Innovation
The renowned flexibility of Norwegian shipyards and gear manufacturers has turned the once-conservative outfitters of Norway's domestic fishing fleet into high-tech providers of products and services for the entire international maritime sector. Deliveries to and collaboration with domestic shipowners have traditionally formed the starting points for all major export contracts with foreign owners and shipbuilders. Today, approximately 60 percent of all ships gear developed and produced in Norway is exported. Major Norwegian corporations with an established reputation as "heavy equipment" exporters worldwide include Kongsberg Maritime AS, which manufactures navigation/bridge and propulsion-control systems, vessel-traffic management solutions, dynamic-positioning instrumentation, sensors, transmitters and sonars. It is typical of Norwegian suppliers exporting specialized components. The Norwegian wing of the international ABB group of companies is a world leader in marine electrotechnology, producing onboard drive systems, turbochargers and total automation systems, including the groundbreaking Compact Azipod propulsion system that provides enhanced vessel manoeuvrability and safety, fuel savings and reduced noise and vibration. Brunvoll AS also competes as a world-class supplier of thruster systems, including tunnel and azimuth and other low-noise thrusters and control systems.
|The 70-meter Arctic factory freezer trawler M/Tr. Vesttind built by Solstrand AS.
On the lighter end of the equipment scale, Jotun AS is a global leader in marine coatings, paints, varnish, powder coatings and cathodic protection, and its products are currently protecting no less than 15,000 vessels worldwide. Record deliveries of its 2003-compliant antifouling system SeaQuantum give Jotun the distinction of being the leading manufacturer and supplier of sophisticated TBT-free antifouling to the world's merchant fleet. The array of products available from other Norwegian companies is vast, ranging from sewage systems, accommodation modules and marine interiors - notably for offshore platforms and cruise vessels, to fire detection and survival systems, lighting systems, helicopter landing platforms and much more. The key to the success of such companies is that each has consciously pursued specialization in segments requiring advanced technological insight. Decades of experience, resourcefulness and openness to ingenuity reinforce the quality stamp in materials, production methodologies and customer relationship management (CRM). Norwegian companies are also maximizing the power of software, developing top-notch communications and other fully integrated systems that are making modern ships extremely efficient to run and track. Captains and crew can also be in touch with head offices, emergency services and family in a way unthinkable 20 years ago - thanks to wireless satellite communications pioneer Telenor Satellite Services.
A recent noteworthy Norwegian initiative in innovation has been the MariNet project, established in 2002 and project managed by classification society Det Norske Veritas's software division with funds provided by the NSA. The scheme has brought together partners and suppliers at the forefront of information communications technology (ICT) to work on pioneering Web-based solutions for the maritime industry. In 2003 MariNet was nominated for the UK's Digital Ship award, which recognizes technological innovation to improve quality, safety and efficiency in the maritime industry.
A Centre of Excellence
In addition to its shipbuilders and ship's gear suppliers, Norway features prominently as a centre of excellence in shipping services with many home-grown experts within the fields of ship finance, ship broking, maritime law, marine insurance, shipping economics and education, specialist software development and business consultancy. Maritime lawyers and consultants offer a distinct financial advantage for international clients in that professional fees tend to be lower than in other maritime centres such as London. One of the world's leading shipping banks, Nordea Bank, also relocated its main loan syndication desk to Oslo in 2003. The competence within the Norwegian service sector is exemplary, and it has a major export value, given the diaspora of Norwegian experts employed in shipping services overseas and as top executives of foreign shipping companies.
Focus on Research and Development
Norway's rich maritime research base is vital to its role as a world leader in ship's equipment and shipbuilding. Many maritime engineers now working in the private sector are products of the Faculty of Marine Technology at the Norwegian University of Science and Technology (NTNU) in Trondheim. The faculty works in close collaboration with MARINTEK - the marine research division of Scandinavia's largest contract research organization, SINTEF - under the umbrella of the Norwegian Marine Technology Research Institute. MARINTEK boasts the most modern laboratories in the world for the development of ships and propulsion systems, as well as a sophisticated, 10-metre deep Ocean Basin tank used for environmental simulation including wind, waves and current. The institute's towing tanks feature state-of-the-art dynamometers for ship model testing that capture test data in 3D. It is also involved in running environmental initiatives on an international basis - such as a recent survey into greenhouse gas emissions by ships, produced for the IMO in cooperation with Det Norske Veritas, Norway's Econ Centre for Economic Analysis and Carnegie Mellon University in the USA. Additionally, MARINTEK provides a base for researchers to spin off independent companies, so that they can take their expertise out into the market.
Classification society Det Norske Veritas, which classifies 15 % of the world fleet, is also a major R&D player in Norway, conducting research into a wide variety of transport systems - such as the ongoing BONDSHIP Project, funded by the GROWTH programme of the European Commission. The project involves 13 partners from 7 nations and aims to introduce environmentally-friendly, adhesive bonding processes for joining lightweight materials in building passenger ships and high-speed craft.
|Based in Trondheim, MARINTEK boasts the most modern laboratories in the world for the development of ships and propulsion systems.
Public financing for research is made available through the Norwegian Research Council, notably its maritime and offshore (MAROFF) programme, which aims particularly at projects initiated by small and medium-sized companies that wish to design innovative, value-added products and services. However, research in the shipping community is not only limited to product-oriented innovation. On the pure business side, Norwegian economists are also bringing their expertise to bear on the future of shipping markets under the banner of Norway's Centre for International Economics and Shipping (SIØS), a partnership between The Norwegian School of Economics and Business Administration (NHH) and the Institute for Research in Economics and Business Administration (SNF). The centre studies issues related to international trade and shipping, and has particular expertise in economic integration and industrial policy, international macroeconomics and international tax policy.
Flexibility and Adaptability
The survival of Norway's shipping industry rests on its ability to react and adapt to rapid fluctuations in the global economic climate and their knock-on effects on the various freight markets. However, in a globalized world where international trade is growing, especially in the Asia-Pacific region, the need to renew the world fleet and emerging markets for maritime offshore operations are sure to generate new and exciting business opportunities for the Norwegian maritime industry, its shipowners, yards and equipment suppliers. The coming years should also see a marked increase in Europe's shortsea fleet, a trend in which Norway is playing a central role, and Norway's shipping companies, shipbuilders and equipment suppliers are in a lead position to reap the benefits.
The Norwegian government's objective is "that Norway should remain an exemplary base for maritime industry" - for foreign companies as well as locally-established enterprises. The department is committed to injecting capital and maintaining competence within the industry; maintaining a research-and-development base that will guarantee Norway's seat at the top table of the world's pre-eminent shipbuilders, ship's gear suppliers and providers of maritime-related services; and sustaining the outstanding reputation of the Norwegian flag and Norwegian seafarers. Norwegians are also well known for their hands-on, no-nonsense, problem-solving approach, which makes Norway a great place to collaborate and do business. International customers come back to the same Norwegian suppliers again and again, confident in their ability to deliver solutions that are not only technologically-advanced but also - in an industry where margins are constantly under pressure - cost-effective.