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Arena offshore support vessel – Norway’s newest maritime cluster

The push for new petroleum resources offshore Norway will lead to future oil exploration and drilling in deeper waters and tougher climate conditions in the Arctic and northern regions far from mainland. The Arena Programme has created a new regional...

To date, there are 22 regional clusters spanning various industries. The newest, Arena Offshore Support Vessel, was started in January 2009 and will run for three years before it can be considered for possible upgrade to a Norwegian Centre of Expertise, such as the NCE Maritime cluster at Møre.

Haugaland Kunnskapspark (Haugaland Knowledge Park) in Haugesund is the owner of the Arena Offshore Support Vessel programme. There are 20 active companies in the programme out of the 120 companies that form the NOK 33 billion petro-maritime cluster in Haugaland and Sunnhordaland.


DeepOcean’s Multi Purpose Service Vessel Edda Flora engaged in subsea inspection, maintenance and repair operations in the North Sea/Norwegian Sea under a long-term agreement with Statoil. DeepOcean is a member of the Arena Offshore Support Vessel cluster.

© DeepOcean



Sophisticated Ship Design

Among the twenty participants is Wärtsila Norway, which acquired Norwegian ship design group Vik-Sandvik last year. Based in Fitjar, Vik-Sandvik specializes in the design of high-end offshore vessels, as well as product and chemical tankers and more specialized vessels. The role of ship design has become more important due to higher performance requirements, more sophisticated systems, and increased integration onboard most vessels, said Wärtsila in connection with the acquisition.

Other companies in the Arena Offshore Support Vessel programme include Østensjø Rederi, Eidesvik Offshore, DeepOcean, Imenco, ResQ, Deepwell, Kystdesign, and Riise Underwater Engineering. The programme has focused on subsea operations, which typically use multi-function vessels that provide remotely operated vehicle (ROV) support, diving support, well intervention, anchor handling, and heavy lifting.

There have been several factors leading up to the creation of Arena Offshore Support Vessel. New exploration oil and gas explorations areas are in deeper waters, more remote from shore, and smaller in field size. Norway’s Ormen Lange gas field, for example, lies far from land in up to 1,100 metres water depth. At the time, no place in the world produced gas at such large sea depth. In addition, there is a shortage of competent labour, an increased focus on safety and the environment, and on costs.

“The main strategic drive for us is that we see these vessels are more complex technology and more complex operations,” said Øyvind Olsen, Arena Offshore Supply Vessel project manager. “Secondly, we believe these vessels are becoming a more critical part of the
value chain. The third driver is that more operations are done subsea in deep waters and more remote.”

So far, the programme has started three major innovation projects (Green Ship Technology, Well Intervention, and Simulation/Training) and established one research and innovation conference with 120 participants. The plan is to keep up that pace and add more active members.



The world’s first fuel cell for marine purpose was installed on the Eidesvik vessel
© Eidesvik 


Green Ship Technology

Green Ship Technology is a project on fuel cells for maritime applications currently being conducted by Arena Offshore Support Vessel together with Eidesvik Offshore. The impetus has been the increasing environmental requirements on vessels by the International Maritime Organisation. Norwegian ships will need to meet these new criteria for air and sea emissions and fuel consumption.

“If we go into new areas like Lofoten, these kinds of restrictions will be even tougher,” said Olsen.

The world’s first fuel cell for marine purposes was installed on the Eidesvik vessel Viking Lady in September 2009, part of the FellowSHIP project between Eidesvik, DNV, Wärsila and MTU Onsite Energy. The FellowSHIP project, initiated in 2003, aims to develop and demonstrate complete integrated hybrid fuel cell systems in ships and qualify the technology for future use.
Arena Offshore Support Vessel’s second project, Simulation Centre, is based in Haugesund in cooperation with Stord Haugesund University College. The programme will develop the existing simulator centre there to support new functionalities

NCE Maritime at Møre

The hope after three years is that the Arena Offshore Support Vessel will become a Norwegian Centre of Expertise, similar to NCE Maritime at Møre based at Ålesund Knowledge Park.

The maritime cluster at Møre plans within the next 10 years to become the world’s leading and most innovative knowledge and expertise cluster in advanced maritime operations. The cluster has its origins in fishing fleets that have been forced over the years to adapt to changing markets. It compromises companies specialized in ship design, equipment supply, shipbuilding, ship owners, training, research and finance. There are a total of 12 design companies, 17 ship owning companies, 13 shipyards and 161 equipment suppliers.

“More’s shipping companies took the opportunity of the last boom to renew their fleets, mainly concentrating on a particular market segment which uses large, advanced vessels,” said KonKraft in its recent report on internationalization. “The shipping companies have positioned themselves as suppliers to demanding markets with special requirements as regards the environment and local participation.”

The cluster provided employment for around 21,000 people and generated NOK 41.5 billion in turnover in 2007. The cluster hopes to grow this amount to NOK 100 billion by 2016. It also aims to increase the proportion of employees in the cluster with a minimum Masters Degree by 30%, increase research activities by 20 man-years within the regional research institutes by 2016 and add 25 patentable products to the cluster for commercialization.