The cluster comprising world-leading companies that design, build, operate, and trade in ships, as well as deliver equipment and services. With shipping companies acting as the cluster drivers and innovators, and with good links to the research and development community, competent individuals are being educated to work in all segments of the cluster.

During 2020 we see a reduction in both value creation and the number of employees. Recent figures show that the total industry employed around 82,700 people in 2020 and contributed value creation of NOK 144 billion. From the peak year of 2014 to 2017, value creation was reduced by more than 25 per cent. In the following years, value creation increased again, and 2020 was set to be another year of growth. After a year of a worldwide pandemic, this growth has now slowed down. Updated figures now indicate a fall in value creation of around eight per cent for the overall maritime industry.

The number of employees in the industry has been reduced by more than 5,000 people from 2019 to 2020. The largest reduction in employment has been in the shipbuilding industry, with a reduction of ten per cent, while equipment suppliers have seen a reduction of around seven per cent. Shipping companies and service providers have experienced a somewhat smaller loss of employees, between five and six per cent.

It is worth noting that employees placed on leave are part of these statistics, and that the decline would have been even greater without these included in the primary data. For the maritime industry, the effect of the pandemic will be more long-term negative, regardless of further infection development. At worst, we will see an employment decline of almost 20 per cent by the end of 2022 compared to 2019.

Opportunities in new markets

Norwegian shipowners and maritime companies have been technology leaders for many years. Among other accomplishments, they are central to the advanced technological development of the oil and gas industry. Specialized vessels, positioning systems and control systems are examples of areas where Norwegian industry is in the forefront. Norwegian maritime companies use technology and expertise from the offshore industry, among other sources, to establish themselves in new markets. This knowledge transfer is crucial for success in other ocean industries. The offshore floating wind market is an area where Norwegian companies see opportunities and can take the lead. Several companies have already invested in both vessels and technology to position themselves in this market.

In the years to come, further opportunities will open up for the exploitation of renewable energy, increased food production and the harvesting of other natural resources such as minerals and medicines. Here too, Norwegian companies have the opportunity to take a leading position.

Shipping is increasingly becoming part of complex international logistics systems requiring advanced databases, monitoring systems and means of communication. Stricter requirements are also being placed on safety and the environment, leading to continuous innovations and technology development, for example related to ship design, propulsion systems and ballast water.

Norway is the world’s fourth largest shipping nation measured by value

When measuring the international position of the shipping industry, it has been common to take cargo capacity as a starting point. For years, Norway was the world’s third largest shipping nation, behind Japan and Greece, measured in total cargo capacity. However, cargo capacity does not always provide a correct picture of the shipping industry’s international position or the industry’s value creation. There are several reasons for this, the main one being that the size of a ship’s cargo hold provides only limited information about its contents and value. The Norwegian fleet consists largely of advanced and expensive vessels that are not designed to maximize freight volumes, but to perform advanced operations.

The value of the total world fleet in 2020 is estimated at USD 890 billion. This is a decrease of around six per cent from the previous year. The value of the total world fleet has been rising since 2017, and at the beginning of 2020 it was assumed that the world fleet would continue to increase in value. This has not been the case following a year with the pandemic, falling oil prices and erratic rate developments.

Norway still holds fourth place, as in the previous year. China, Japan and Greece are by far the three largest nations, followed by Norway and the United States. In the Norwegian fleet, the offshore segment has the highest market value, and only the USA has an offshore fleet of higher value. Estimates for 2021 indicate that the value of the world fleet will be virtually unchanged, including the Norwegian fleet.

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The Norwegian-controlled foreign-going fleet