Do the UAE and Norway have common trend in developing the maritime industry?


By Ksenia Zudinova‭, ‬Director of Emirates Zone‭ ‬

Phd Candidate‭, ‬St‭.-‬Petersburg State University of Economics


The UAE and Norway have many similarities‭: ‬both have high impact of oil and gas industry‭, ‬both keep on diversification of economy‭, ‬both are focusing on high-end technologies‭. ‬Even by Abu Dhabi Economic Vision 2030‭ ‬Norway was chosen as a short-listed country of relevance for Abu Dhabi's economic diversification‭. ‬Similarity is observed in maritime sector as well‭. ‬Both are oriented on‭ ‬building specific vessels and platforms serving oil field‭. ‬How Norway did an advanced step in balancing the industry even not in best times‭? ‬


Oil crisis‭ ‬–‭ ‬new sectors to discover‭? ‬

Norwegian shipbuilding history counts many centuries of its existing‭. ‬Especially fast it was blooming since 1990s with relatively stable oil prices and increasing demand in vessels‭. ‬Main orientation was shipbuilding and construction for offshore oil and gas industry‭. ‬However‭, ‬due to low oil prices during last 3‭ ‬years‭, ‬the offshore segment went down dramatically worldwide‭. ‬

Norwegian shipbuilders adapted quickly to new challenges and discovered new segments which help industry to overcome difficulties‭. ‬Using longstanding offshore expertise‭, ‬they start to build complex offshore farms‭. ‬From the other side‭, ‬being for years an industry with high investment in marine research and development‭, ‬Norwegian shipbuilders emphasize more on high level fishing vessels‭, ‬specialized workboats and passenger ships‭. ‬Thus‭, ‬being in challenging time‭, ‬the industry is changing its directions in order to keep accumulated knowledge‭, ‬technologies and human resources for future golden years‭. ‬

Relatively new trend in Norwegian shipbuilding are vessels for ocean wind and aquaculture farms‭. ‬Development of new segments of‭ ‬economics like aquaculture farms create needs in new shipbuilding products‭. ‬Long term R&D ended up with highly specialized fish‭ ‬and wind farm support vessels‭, ‬where Norway got almost‭ ‬¾‭ ‬of the market‭. ‬

Other recent unique technology is autonomous container vessel run by solar energy‭. ‬It is expected to be on sea by 2018‭ ‬and to become fully autonomous two years later‭. ‬Although the price of the first ship is almost 4‭ ‬times higher than it’s human-run sister‭, ‬according to researchers‭, ‬it will save up to 90%‭ ‬of its costs by cutting crew and fuel expenditures‭. ‬Demand‭ ‬for this technology is growing simultaneously‭, ‬planning in the future to substitute big part of road transportations‭. ‬The project is being built for the company-transporter of mineral fertilizers‭. ‬This is rather common case for Norway of building vessels for non-standard goods to be transported‭. ‬

One more great sample of Norwegian marine innovation is construction of world’s largest tunnel for vessels with enormous one-mile passageway with almost 50‭ ‬m height and 36‭ ‬m beam‭. ‬The tunnel to be built in‭ ‬the rocky peninsula to cut the distance for the passing vessels‭. ‬


Innovation leads development‭ ‬

Innovation is the key of success of Norwegian shipbuilding industry‭. ‬Ability to adapt fast for continuously changing market requirements‭, ‬environmentally friendly solutions and unprecedented support for R&D&I are bringing national marine industry to the top positions‭. ‬Government has created two special agencies to support industry in this direction‭: ‬Research Council and Innovation‭ ‬Norway‭, ‬followed by the programmes‭ ‬“Maritime Opportunities‭ ‬–‭ ‬Blue Growth for a Green Future”‭ ‬and‭ ‬“Steady as she goes”‭. ‬Developed marine clusters combining private yards‭, ‬government‭, ‬research institutions‭, ‬universities‭, ‬create synergetic affect for the industry‭. ‬

Main focus of research is information and communication technologies‭, ‬new materials and operational structure of local shipyards‭. ‬When it comes to the production structure of the Norwegian shipyards‭, ‬key points of success are solid investments in facilities‭, ‬systemized procurement and perfect logistic schemas which lead to minimum warehouses‭. ‬Being a high-cost country‭, ‬it is especially important to create valuable knowledge-based advantages to offer various complex product in marine industry‭. ‬

Apart from shipbuilding‭, ‬focus of research is going to ships’‭ ‬equipment as well‭: ‬designing specialized propulsion systems‭, ‬offshore equipment‭, ‬appliances for fishing industry‭ ‬–‭ ‬creating extra value for the industry‭, ‬using the accumulative effect of all players of the market‭. ‬


The UAE and Norway marine cooperation

Being similar countries in maritime sectors‭, ‬the collaboration between countries is strengthening for mutual benefit‭. ‬Gratefully‭ ‬it is not going only in ordering ready vessels‭, ‬but work on complex innovative projects together‭. ‬For example‭, ‬biggest wind power offshore platform in the world was built in Dubai for and with cooperation of Norwegian energy company‭. ‬

It is hoped that collaboration between two countries will grow with years in innovative and high end projects which will serve globally‭. ‬Norway is showing great sample of making shipbuilding industry less dependent on oil field by intensive diversification‭, ‬which preserve accumulated experience and institutions till the hydrocarbon market‭ ‬
recovery‭. ‬