Norway Fines Shipping Company and Master for Having Heavy Fuel in Svalbard

Svalbard Norway
The Svalbard region prohibits ships from having heavy fuel oil (Longyearbyen harbor - Joxean Koret photo - CC BY-SA 2.0)

Published Jun 14, 2024 1:56 PM by The Maritime Executive


Norwegian authorities for the first time have fined a shipping company and the master of a cargo vessel for having heavy fuel oil aboard the vessel in the Svalbard region. The governor of the region reports that the vessel was found in violation of the Svalbard Environment Act of 2022 which seeks to prevent dangers from oil spills into the environmentally sensitive regions of the Arctic.

Svalbard is a Norwegian archipelago between mainland Norway and the North Pole. One of the world’s northernmost inhabited areas, it is also an environmental protection zone that is popular with tourists. The 2022 act however was not for emissions but instead focused on the potential of oil spills into the waters.

Ships sailing to Svalbard are only permitted to have marine gas oil or similar lighter-weight viscosity fuel aboard. They can not use or have aboard HFO (Heavy Fuel Oil) due to the dangers of an accidental spill. The regulation notes the dangers to the environment and the difficulties in containing and retrieving oil spills.

According to Governor Lars Fause inspectors from the Norwegian Maritime Directorate discovered the fuel aboard the cargo ship during an inspection on June 6. The ban was effective on January 1, 2022, but it provided a two-year extension for cargo ships traveling to or from Longyearbyen and Barentsburg until 2024. 

Media reports from Norway are identifying the vessel as the Arklow Wind (16,800 dwt) that arrived from Poland to load coal. The vessel was built in 2019 and is registered in Ireland operating for Arklow Shipping.

The Governor reports a fine of approximately $93,000 was imposed on the shipping company. They also fined the master of the vessel a further $2,800.

The shipping company has not accepted the fine but agreed to post a guarantee for the amount. A hearing has been scheduled for the district court in early October.

After the guarantee was provided, the local authorities permitted the cargo ship to depart on June 12. She is reportedly bound for the UK.

Svalbard is a mineral and coal-rich area that has a more than 100-year history with mining. The state coal company has been active in the region since 1910 but in recent years has been closing down operations. Its last coal mine, the only one operating in Norway, is scheduled to end operations by the summer of 2025.


Top photo of Longyearbyen by Joxean Koret - CC BY-SA 2.0