Norway - Country Commercial Guide
Shipping, Maritime Equipment & Services
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Norway is one of the world’s largest maritime offshore nations and has been a major player in shipping and shipbuilding for more than 150 years.  With a population of only 5.5 million, Norway is considered a superpower on the seas, controlling the world’s 4th largest merchant fleet, by value (the United States ranks 5th).  A total of 1,634 Norwegian controlled ocean-going ships are registered in 2023.  Norwegian ship owners are especially active within shipping areas like offshore service/specialty vessels, oil tankers, bulk carriers, chemical tankers, gas (LNG/LPG) tankers, car carriers, and cruise operations.  The Norwegian fleet is less exposed to the turmoil in the container market.

Norway has a long tradition of utilizing the rich maritime environment, including major activities in commercial shipping, fishing, and aquaculture.  The market for leisure boats is also large in Norway, with an estimated 800,000 unregistered boats.  The Norwegian coastline is the world’s second longest, and measures over 20,000 km, which is 126% that of the United States. Most urban settlements are on the coast, and sea travel has been a travel mode of choice for centuries.    

The Norwegian maritime industry cluster is considered among the most comprehensive of its kind in the world, encompassing ship owners, brokers, insurance and financial services, classification institutions, shipyards, ship’s gear manufacturers, maritime education, maritime research and development, a very comprehensive aquaculture ecosystem, maritime authorities, employer organizations, and NGOs. 

Norwegian shipowners, through the Norwegian Shipowners’ Association, and backed by the government, are spearheading the development of zero emission shipping, representing a progressive voice at the International Maritime Organization (IMO).


U.S. maritime technology and service suppliers have found the Norwegian market well worth exploring for exports and joint ventures for several reasons.

A significant technology transfer is underway, transitioning expertise from offshore oil and gas to various maritime sectors. This shift is fostering the emergence of novel applications rooted in world-leading offshore energy solutions. Notably, offshore oil and gas technology serves as the bedrock for pioneering aquaculture and ocean farming ventures. These projects are designed to address critical sustainability issues like sea lice, fish escapes, algae blooms, and nitrogen pollution.  Norway’s maritime value chain relies on inputs from various sources, and U.S. companies have established themselves as pertinent and embraced contributors to this transformation.

Zero emission maritime transport is generating opportunities for a growing eco system.  Short sea ship owners have already adopted new propulsion systems, mainly battery technology but also hydrogen.  Most of the 200+ ferries will soon be emission free.  Concepts for autonomous shipping are under development. Deep sea shipping is next, with several concepts for propulsion under testing, including biogas, hydrogen, and most notably, ammonia. Development in these areas require input form many high-tech disciplines internationally.  The industry believes that taking business risk is a necessity, but it relies on infrastructure development by the authorities. Seven out of 10 Norwegian Shipowners’ Association members believe they will cut greenhouse gas emissions by 50% per unit by 2030, and nearly eight out of 10 believe they will be climate-neutral by 2050.