Norway’s arctic offers logistics operators burgeoning opportunities

By: | at 08:00 PM | Channel(s): International Trade  

By Karen E. Thuermer, AJOT
Move over Saudi Arabia and other oil and gas producing nations in the volatile Middle East and unstable regions of the world. According to a recent report by UK-based industry analysis specialist GlobalData, the Arctic region holds the potential of 22 percent of the world’s undiscovered, technically recoverable oil and gas resources that can be produced using currently available technology and industry practices.
The region also accounts for about 30 percent of the undiscovered natural gas, 13 percent of the undiscovered oil and 20 percent of the undiscovered NGL in the world. The regions importance is growing as melting ice of the Arctic Ocean is freeing up more navigable water, leaving significant petroleum reserves combined with newly opened trade routes up for grabs.
In fact, in December 2010, GAC Norway welcomed the TransAtlantic ice-breaking Anchor Handling Tug Supply (AHTS) “Tor Viking II” to the seaport of Hammerfest in Norway after its transit of the ice-bound North East Passage. The event marked a new agency agreement that brings together two companies with plans for Arctic expansion.
GAC Norway is part of the GAC Group, a global provider of shipping, logistics and marine services. Headquartered in Dubai, GAC employs over 9,000 workers in more than 300 offices worldwide. Rederi AB TransAtlantic is involved in icebreaking Arctic areas, as well as the Baltic Sea. It comprises of four business areas: offshore/icebreaking, bulk, container and RoRo Baltic.
Berthing at the northern Norwegian port of Hammerfest marked the end of the vessel’s voyage from Alaska to Europe through frozen waters, which shaved three weeks off the sailing time needed to take the traditional route through the Panama Canal. The transit was the first time a commercial vessel had used the Northern Sea Route so late in the year.
“And when the vessel arrived at Hammerfest, GAC had taken care of all necessary clearances and requirements for her stay,” reports Ahmet Özsoy, managing director, GAC Shipping (Norway) AS. “ GAC’s local expertise and global experience in the energy sector, coupled with TransAtlantic’s proven capabilities in working in ice and harsh weather, look set to make an important contribution as oil and gas exploration gathers momentum.”
GlobalData points out, however, there are disputes between Canada, Denmark (through its rights over Greenland), Norway, Russia and the United States regarding rights to use resources and security of transportation through Arctic ship routes.
Environmentalists and ecologists are also raising concerns, stating that an oil spill in the ice could be worse than what occurred in the Gulf of Mexico. Irreversible changes to the climate could affect the habitat of animals present in the region. Thus, stricter regulations combined with the right technology and careful implementation by companies to tap the vast potential of reserves is crucial for any significant exploration activity to be carried out in the region.
The Next Big Thing
The Arctic has been tipped as the next big thing in oil and gas exploration, despite the challenges presented by its remoteness and harsh climate. Soaring prices and the current political instability in the traditional oil and gas producing regions, coupled with the retreat of the Arctic ice shelf, are making the frozen waters of the north more and more attractive for the energy sector.
Nevertheless, significant oil and gas extraction is expected to take place in new Arctic fields.
“This will certainly increase demand for project logistics and offshore services, specialist ice-going offshore vessels and specially-trained crews,” states Özsoy.
He points out that, although still in its infant stages, Norway has begun exporting LNG from the Sn hvit (Snow White) gas field in the Barents Sea.
The Goliath circular floating production, storage and offloading (FPSO) vessel that will link to subsea wells is coming on stream in a couple of years. Production licenses are held

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American Journal of Transportation