The fall in the price of oil might appear to pose a serious threat to Norway’s offshore maritime sector and the various supporting technology industries. Oil majors, including Norway’s state controlled Statoil, have slashed investment in exploration and production projects.
Orders for offshore support vessels (OSVs) that are the mainstay of Norwegian shipbuilders have already slumped and 2016 could be even worse. Norwegian OSV owners are reviewing their fleet strategies as demand for their services has fallen. Casualties and consolidation among both vessel operators and yards are likely.
And yet, the general mood among Norway’s maritime community remains optimistic, at least for the long-term. The Norwegian Shipowners’ Association’s (NSA’s) Maritime Outlook 2015: Navigating in a new climate survey and report published in April, observes that Norway is one of the world’s largest and most advanced maritime nations and its position now is stronger than it has ever been, with more than 1,800 Norwegian-controlled ships and rigs in action around the globe. But it acknowledges that as a globalised industry Norway’s maritime sector is subject to trends outside of its control.
It comments: “Employment in the oil industry has come under pressure virtually overnight, and terrorist actions are no longer perceived a distant threat. More extreme weather and natural disasters are causing concern. A small country like Norway will always be influenced by these global trends, but the maritime industry feels the impact of global developments as they occur.”
Whatever emerges from these global trends, Norway’s maritime sector is determined to remain at the forefront of advances in maritime technology and in particular in pursuit of a greener and sustainable industry.
The NSA report notes that Norway’s maritime cluster is increasingly more knowledge-based, driven by advances in oil and gas technologies by maritime companies. Shipowners, equipment suppliers, shipyards and service providers have all played key roles in developing world-leading specialised vessels, positioning systems, deepwater operations, and control systems.
Norwegian shipping has become deeply integrated in complex international logistical systems involving advanced information management, surveillance systems, and communications technology. Added to this are increasingly stringent safety and environmental requirements, stimulating continuous innovation in ship design, propulsion systems and emission abatement systems.
There is no indication of any slippage in the commitment by Norway’s leading maritime equipment companies to continuing research and development of innovative technology that will keep Norway at the front edge.
Whatever the immediate challenges the Norwegian maritime cluster faces from global forces, its ongoing commitment to technology development and production will remain an essential contributor to Norway’s economy.