The economy in Norway is undergoing a period of transformation as it prepares for a post-petroleum era. Norway is facing the challenge of re-inventing its economy. The freight services industry in Norway is also looking to adapt and embrace new opportunities in response to changing market conditions.
Norway is a country that is extremely rich in natural resources and its economy has been largely based on exploiting these natural strengths in oil, gas and minerals. Norway's largest export is petroleum and petroleum products. In fact, petroleum and natural gas currently account for nearly half of its total exports and it is the world's third largest exporter of oil and gas. However, the challenge is now to adapt to the fact that the North Sea has past its peak oil production. Norway's offshore Oil production peaked in 2002 and so the Norwegian government is well aware that it cannot depend on oil revenues indefinitely into the future. The challenge facing Norway is diversification of its economy, so that it can maintain its high standard of living into a post-petroleum future.
So over the last decade, Norway has faced the challenge and begun a process of reshaping its economy by diversifying into new sectors so it can prosper after petroleum revenues decrease. This includes government support to create a competitive private sector with strengths in IT and technology. Norway is now encouraging the growth of small businesses and encouraging new private sector industry in a number of ways. By doing so, it is following the approach earlier adopted successfully by its neighbours Sweden and Finland.
Norway is fortunate in that is in a strong economic position and is one of the world's richest countries per head. Norway has large foreign trade surpluses due to the high cost of oil in recent times. This is enabling the government to invest in developing new industries to support its strategy of diversification.
The Norwegian government is thus able to help support the freight services sector as it faces the challenge of adapting to new conditions.
One of the private sector industries that is robust and growing in Norway in shipping. Shipping companies originally developed in Norway to serve the offshore petrolem industry and have now achieved a dominant market position. In fact, the shipping fleet in Norway is one of the most modern in the world.
Shipping and freight services has therefore been identified as an industry to be further developed and strengthened in future, as a key part of the Norwegian economy.
As shipping companies face the new challenges, the sector is showing innovation as shipping companies identify and seize new opportunities that are relevant for the post petroleum era.
For example, the Norwegian freight company sector is set to break new ground with the launch of the world's first gas-powered ro-ro vessels. Norwegian shipping company Sea-Cargo AS is building the vessels and they are expected to be launched by 2010. With the focus on lower exhaust emissions from short sea and coastal vessels, Sea Cargo AS identified liquified natural gas as the fuel of the future. These vessels will reduce CO2 emissions by 25% compared with a vessel run on conventional fuel.
Another way in which the freight transport sector is facing the challenge of new opportunities is exploiting new markets, created by changing economic conditions. An especially important area of opportunity for shipping companies in Norway is the Baltic Sea Region.
Norway, like its neighbour Finland, has a significant role to play in serving the Baltic region. Although the global economic crisis is having a negative impact on freight forwarding in many countries worldwide, international freight to and from the Baltics remains a growth area. The majority of shipping companies and economic commentators are expecting growth in the Baltic region to continue to be strong in the next few years. This will strengthen the freight services sector in those countries like Norway and Finland on which freight transport to the Baltic region depends.
The Baltic Region is now a main trading area for the freight forwarding and shipping company industry based in Bergen. They offer a frequent service to the Baltic Region, mainly with its fleet of side door vessels.The main item requiring freight transport is frozen fish from Norway, Scotland and Iceland. This is transported to many destinations in the Baltic Region. This is an expanding market, with an increasing demand for fish products as the buying power of customers increases in the countries that make up the Baltic Region.
In ways such as these, shipping companies in Norway are showing that they can identify and seize the new opportunities created by changing market conditions. This means that the freight forwarding and international freight industry in Norway face a bright future as they rise to the challenge of responding to change.