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Norway’s Maritime Cluster I

Norwegian maritime enterprises together form an internationally competitive, expertise-based industry that boasts an unrivalled degree of professionalism. A high proportion of maritime employment is found in regional Norway but the cluster as a whole works closely together, forming a demanding...

In the shipping sector, products and services geared to the requirements of shipowners running vessels in tough markets drive the need for constant innovation and exacting standards. Long experience in the market, resourcefulness and sharp minds have all contributed to the development of a unique maritime agglomeration comprising shipowners, shipyards, equipment manufacturers, naval architects, classification societies, research and education centres, national authorities, local port authorities and seafarer organisations, shipbrokers, maritime software producers, marine underwriters, ship-finance houses and freight-forwarding and logistics companies.


The Norwegian Maritime Exporters’ Association (NME)

NME was founded in 1995 and its mission is to maintain Norway’s leading position within the international shipping community and to promote cooperation between companies and organisations within the martime sector as a whole, including fisheries and the burgeoing aquaculture industry. As well as providing insight into a complex and specialised marketplace for customers who need to be pointed into the right direction, NME also works together with members to identify and expand new markets, particularly with a view to providing one-stop-shop turnkey contracts involving multiple suppliers.


PO Box 1927 Vika
NO-1119 Oslo, Norway
Tel:          +47 22 01 06 60
Fax:         +47 22 01 22 02
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Two significant umbrella organisations, the Norwegian Maritime Exporters’ Association (NME) and the Maritimt Forum of Norway, encourage dialogue and cooperation among their membership to help build consensus around standards and to explore new market opportunities and trends. Such cooperation on international marketing initiatives is a unique Norwegian tradition that dates back more than 20 years. Both organisations also lobby for the best governmental policies relating to the industry at home and promote its best interests abroad through participation at international shipping exhibitions and hosting forums and fact-finding visits to maritime-related enterprises abroad. They also act as a first point of contact for overseas customers needing advice on choosing the most suitable Norwegian suppliers or potential partners.



Technologically advanced vessels are the hallmark of Norwegian shipyards, which deliver modern fishing vessels, cruise ships, cable layers, offshore supply ships and all types of merchant tonnage to clients worldwide. It is rare to hear of Norwegian-built vessels that have not proven themselves, often in extremely demanding applications and harsh sea conditions. Yards offer custom-made ships designed using the latest CAD/CAM technologies and know-how to fulfil clients’ unique requirements. In addition to newbuilding, there are facilities engaged in ship conversion and repair and in the offshore sector constructing all manner of topsides and submersible structures for use in the North Sea and elsewhere.

Ship’s Gear Manufacturers

Around 300 small and medium-sized companies and five large corporations supply high-quality, sophisticated products and systems to the shipping, offshore, fisheries and freight-logistics sectors worldwide. Design innovation, particularly in niche areas ranging from hi-tech propulsion systems to state-of-the art electronics for navigation and positioning, is often inspired by engineers from private concerns collaborating with research establishments to brainstorm and develop leading-edge solutions.


NML – Norwegian Maritime Suppliers

A competitive global economy informed by rapid technological developments makes it increasingly difficult for the individual maritime supplier to survive in isolation. Norwegian Maritime Suppliers (NML) specifically adresses the collective interests of individual maritime suppliers in Norway in both national and international arenas. Since its establishment in 1985, the organization has focused on the importance of adaptability with regard to competitive challenges specific to the maritime industry, by both providing and assisting in the distribution of information among actors, as well as through various developmental initiatives. NML is a recognized representative of maritime suppliers in Norway, serving not only in an informative capacity but also actively working to influence national industrial policy. In addition to its close collaboration with other Norwegian maritime organizations, it is also a member of the International Ship Suppliers Association – an international network with 1800 members in 80 countries.


Maritime Research and Development

The importance of Norway’s shipping industry in the national economy has prompted the growth of a significant maritime research establishment, spearheaded by the Marine Technology Centre at the Norwegian University of Science and Technology (NTNU) in Trondheim. Researchers and research facilities in the fields of design and hydrodynamics, shipbuilding, operations and logistics have won international acclaim. R&D services are also exported to shipping companies and authorities worldwide.

Maritime Education

To combat the current worldwide lack of qualified seamen, and to maintain enough officers and masters to man its fleet in the future, Norway places a priority on attracting and educating high-calibre young people in the maritime sector. In addition to the world-renowned maritime faculty at NTNU, other institutions and colleges provide further education in maritime engineering, seamanship and general shipping studies. Norway also exports its educational services in overseas initiatives such as the Norwegian Maritime Training Center in Manila, which was set up by the Norwegian Shipowners’ Association in 1990 to provide relevant ongoing training for Filipino seafarers working on board members’ vessels.


Norway in a few seconds

Size: 385 155 sq. km
(including island of Svalbard and Jan Mayen)

Population 4.5 million
Main Cities Population (incl. suburbs)
Oslo 773 498
Bergen 205 759
Trondheim 140 631
Stavanger 162 083
GDP 2001 NOK 1 472 billion
Exchange Rate: NOK/USD 8.9913 (average 2001)
NOK/EUR 8.0493 (average 2001)


Main export commodities:
Oil and gas, metals, machinery, chemical products, fish and fish products, pulp and paper, ferro alloys

Main import commodities:
Transport equipment, machinery, chemicals, textiles, metal products



Norwegian shipping companies own or operate a foreign-going fleet of around 1,700 vessels totalling some 50 million deadweight tonnes. The value of the fleet, the second-largest nationally flagged fleet in the world, is estimated at around USD 20 billion. Although a handful of Norwegian shipowners are active in the mainstream crude-oil and products tankers and bulk-carrier sectors, most focus on specialised ships such as gas (LPG/LNG) tankers, ro-ro ferries and car carriers, cruiseships, trawlers and offshore supply vessels. In addition, the world’s two leading chemical-carrier specialists are Norwegian. Close cooperation between yards, ship’s gear outfitters and maritime R&D institutions, as well as between finance and maritime authorities, has been instrumental in creating Norway’s dynamic maritime community. The Norwegian shipowning industry is a demanding customer of Norwegian maritime businesses, in a market characterised by fierce competition both at home and abroad.


Strict rules apply to both the building and the operation of bluewater vessels, and to the equipment they are fitted with. Classification societies such as Det Norske Veritas, one of the world’s largest with 300 offices in 100 countries, are responsible for ensuring that regulations for health and safety are complied with for newbuildings and new ship designs, as well as for safeguarding high standards of maintenance on board. Det Norske Veritas engineers and technical personnel are currently involved in classing around 15.7 per cent of the world fleet and the society is authorised to act on behalf of 130 national maritime authorities.


Maritimt Forum of Norway

Since its formation in 1990, the Maritimt Forum of Norway has been engaged in bringing the needs of the maritime industry onto the political agenda as well as promoting the industry outside Norway and fostering cooperation among its several hundred members, employee organizations and national authorities. Its vision is: “Norway will be the world’s leading maritime nation in the 21st century, delivering advanced, innovative products and services.” It sponsors joint international marketing and R&D projects, as well as regular conferences and topical forums, working closely with the European Maritime Industries Forum (EMIF) to broaden ties and strengthen the international competitive advantage of the entire European maritime industry.


PO Box 1452 Vika
NO-1116 OSLO
Tel:          +47 22 40 15 50
Fax:         +47 22 41 57 21

Marine Insurance

Norway’s marine underwriters have a strong domestic base but are also active worldwide, offering standard and tailored insurance products to shipowners and offshore companies. Gard is the second-largest protection-and-indemnity marine mutual in the International Group of P&I clubs, insuring over 90 million gross tonnes and over 5,000 ships. Together with compatriot club Skuld it covers more than 20 per cent of the world fleet.


Norwegian shipbrokers help to devise and market new transport concepts and act as middlemen in the sale and purchase of trading vessels, newbuildings and ships destined for the scrapyards. Other specialised brokers work commercially on behalf of shipowners and charterers broking time charters and voyage fixtures for vessels in the different wet and dry commodities-shipment markets. Norwegian brokerages, renowned for their business acumen, are among the world leaders in their analyses of these markets and are experts in spotting new opportunities for their clients.

Shipping Finance

Norwegian finance institutions and banks cover 10 per cent of the global maritime banking market, and have substantial experience in putting together complex project-finance solutions for shipowners and other maritime interests. Norway’s leading banks have representative offices in shipping centres worldwide. The Norwegian export credit agency, Eksportfinans, works mainly to fund business in the international capital markets and has had international ratings since the early 1980s. Current ratings are Aaa from Moody’s, AAA from Fitch IBCA and AA+ from Standard & Poor’s. This first-class borrower status allows Eksportfinans to provide medium to long-term export financing on favourable terms to Norwegian ship’s gear exporters and their clients.

National Authorities

There is extensive national and international legislation governing maritime activity, with the International Maritime Organisation (IMO) as the chief independent body governing shipping. The Norwegian Ministry of Trade and Industry is the top authority in charge of legislation and policy for the Norwegian maritime sector. Other important parties are the Norwegian Pollution Control Authority, the Norwegian National Ship Registers and the Norwegian Coastal Directorate.


Facts and Figures

  • Norway is Europe’s leading maritime nation with the third-largest fleet in the world.


  • With only 0.1% of the world’s population and 1% of world trade, Norway still controls around 10% of the world fleet.


  • Norway’s maritime (shipbuilding, ship’s equipment and shipping services) industry has an annual turnover of around NOK 200 billion (USD 26 billion).


  • 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 90,000 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 billion).