Norway - Country Commercial Guide
Shipping, Maritime Equipment & Services

This is a best prospect industry sector for this country. Includes a market overview and trade data.

Last published date: 2022-09-12


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 5.4 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 1,783 Norwegian-controlled ocean-going ships are registered in 2021.  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, lobbying the International Maritime Organization (IMO) to ban fossil fuels by 2050.


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

A major technology transfer is taking place, from offshore oil and gas to other maritime areas.  Developing an array of new applications based on world leading offshore energy solutions opens for companies to participate.  Offshore oil and gas technology is a foundation for many cutting-edge aquaculture and ocean farming projects, set up to deal with sustainability challenges such as sea lice, big waves, fish escapes, and pollution.  Norway is dependent on input in practically all parts of the maritime value chain, and U.S. companies have found themselves relevant and welcomed. 

Zero emission maritime transport is generating opportunities for a growing eco system.  Short sea ship owners have already adopted new propulsion systems for many vessels on the coast, mainly using battery technology.  Most of the 200+ ferries will soon be emission free.  Concepts for autonomous shipping is being developed, or commissioned, such as “sea buses” but also unmanned container ships such as Yara Birkeland, already in operation.  Deep sea shipping is next, with several concepts under testing, including biogas, hydrogen, and most notably, ammonia. Development in these areas require input form many high-tech disciplines internationally.  The Norwegian fleet of nearly 1,800 vessels aims to be “zero emission” by 2050. The industry believes that taking business risk is a necessity but relies on infrastructure development.