Kirkenes is becoming an important port for vessels conducting seismic surveys in the Arctic search for fossil fuels.
Geographical proximity to the oil and gas fields and developed infrastructure draws companies to this North Norwegian town.
One of the companies making a profit on the increased activity in the Arctic is Henriksen Shipping. Since the Agreement on Delimitation of the Barents Sea and Arctic Ocean came into force, Henriksen Shipping has had an enormous increase in the number of calls by vessels heading to Arctic waters for seismological surveys.
This company has landed a large contract with WesternGeco, one of the world’s leading geophysical services companies. WesternGeco is conducting seismic surveys for Russia in the Kara Sea and has chosen Kirkenes as service port for its vessels.
While the company only had a couple of calls by seismic vessels last year, the number will be 30-40 in 2012, manager Arve Henriksen told BarentsObserver.
“This really puts Kirkenes on the map and means a lot more than just money for us”, Henriksen says.
The foreign captains are impressed by how much competence the many small companies in Kirkenes hold. “Half of Kirkenes is on their feet when a vessel comes in”, Henriksen says. “Here you can get anything done, at any time of the day”. When a vessel comes in from the operation field in the Arctic, it takes only some 20 hours to change the crew, get necessary custom clearance, load supplies and have smaller repairs done, he explains.
Services to the Russian fishing fleet are still very important for ship agencies in Kirkenes. Nearly 50 percent of Henriksen Shipping’s turnover comes from services to the Russian king crab fleet and other Russian fishing vessels.