Norwegian ports processed around 226 million metric tons of sea freight in 2022, the highest volume in the past eight years. Over one-third of all this cargo was handled at the Port of Bergen, making it the most important port in the country. Norway also owns the ninth biggest merchant fleet in the world, as well as the ninth most valuable fleet.
Danish Maersk as the largest container ship operatorAlthough the Danish merchant fleet is smaller and less valuable than the Norwegian fleet, Denmark’s maritime prowess lies in its container fleet. In 2021, Denmark operated the sixth largest container fleet in terms of gross tonnage, trailing only Greece, China, Singapore, Japan, and Hong Kong. In Denmark, however, the national container shipping industry is dominated by just one company, A.P. Møller – Maersk. Such a high concentration of container ships in Maersk makes it the largest container ship operator in the world, with a share of 16 percent of the global container ship fleet.
A.P. Møller – Maersk’s success surpassed the container ship sector, with the operator ranking among the leading logistics companies worldwide in 2021. Recording sales of just under 62 billion U.S. dollars, the Danish business was in competition with companies such as United Parcel Service, FedEx, and the Deutsche Post. Denmark’s DSV Panalpina, ranking ninth, was the only other Nordic company in the top 14 logistics companies worldwide.
The importance of the Arctic OceanThe geographical location of the Nordic countries does not only provide them with easy access to the sea; the Nordic region is one of the few regions in the world that are located close to the Arctic Ocean. As the ice in the Arctic melts due to global warming, more space in the Arctic Ocean becomes accessible for economic exploitation. This area is mainly used for gas, oil, and minerals extraction, as well as the establishment of new shipping routes. Opening the Arctic Ocean for ship traffic would offer shorter, alternative routes for sea transport between Asia and North America, and Asia and Europe, avoiding the Panama and Suez canals altogether. It was estimated that shipping through the Arctic Ocean can save up to 14 days over the Suez Canal route.
While ship traffic in the Arctic Ocean increased considerably between 2013 and 2019, the Arctic Ocean will not become an important shipping route any time soon. Ships can pass the ocean only during the summer months. Even then, ship equipment tends to break down due to freezing temperatures, which can result in high economic costs for ship operators and insurers. Moreover, pollution from the increased ship traffic not only harms local ecosystems but also further exacerbates climate change in the region.