International Journal
on Marine Navigation
and Safety of Sea Transportation
Volume 1
Number 3
September 2007
Ship-to-ship Operations in Cold Climate
T.E. Berg
Norwegian Marine Technology Research Institute (MARINTEK), Norway
ABSTRACT: Within the Norwegian maritime cluster there is a growing interest in studies of harsh weather
marine operations. For the oil industry offshore loading is a preferred operation for production at minor
oilfields far from existing infrastructure. Safe and cost-effective production from recent oil and gas
discoveries close to the coastline of Northern Norway introduces new challenges due to cold climate
environments. At the same time increased transit of oil from northwest Russia will require increased ship-to-
ship transfer in an optimized cargo chain from the oilfields to customers in Europe and the USA.
Ship-to-ship cargo transfer is a critical element in
many transport chains, especially for oil and gas
products. A large part of oil export from northwest
Russia is transported by smaller tankers or rail to
Murmansk where floating storage tankers are at
anchor. Conventional oil tankers are used to carry
the oil to European or American customers. Since
2005 condensate has been transferred in sheltered
waters close to Kirkenes in northern Norway (close
to the Russian border). A number of ship owners and
agents have proposed different areas for ship-to-ship
crude oil transfer operations in sheltered waters in
fjords along the Finnmark coast.
This paper will review previous, present and
proposed applications of ship-to-ship transfer of oil
and gas in the cold climate environments of northern
Norway. The main focus will be on regulations for
and experience from operations done in sheltered
waters in this part of Norway. The Norwegian way
will be compared to traditional lightering operations
done in US waters. Other items that will be
discussed are the development of guidelines for
doing conventional lightering operations within
Norwegian territorial waters in the northern part
of the Norwegian Sea as well as the Barents Sea. At
present the Norwegian authorities only accept ship-
to-ship oil transfer in sheltered waters. Finally, the
presentation will look into the work done by Ship
Manoeuvring Simulator to develop realistic training
scenarios for emergency lightering operation under
harsh environmental conditions at sea.
2.1 Ship-to-ship oil transfer in northwest Russia
At present the only oil production in the European
Arctic takes place in northwest Russia. Due to
the seasonal ice cover in harbours east of the Kola
Peninsula small ice-strengthened tankers are used to
transfer crude oil and condensate to floating storage
and offloading vessels in Murmansk or for direct
ship-to-ship transfer operations in Norwegian
waters. Figure 1 shows the locations with existing or
planned transhipment of Russian oil for export.