Spill Notification Point

Norwegian Coastal Administration (Kystverket)
Department for Emergency Response
PO Box 1502, N-6025 Alesund
Moloveien 7, Horten (visiting address)

Tel: +47 33034800 (emergency)

Fax: +47 33034949

Competent National Authority

Details as above. 

Response Arrangements

The Norwegian Coastal Administration (NCA) is an agency of the Norwegian Ministry of Transport and Communications responsible for services related to maritime safety, maritime infrastructure, transport planning and efficiency, and emergency response to acute pollution.

The NCA’s Department for Emergency Response, located in Horten with regional offices in Bergen and Tromsø, exercises the state's responsibilities for preparedness against acute pollution. The Department is responsible for preventing and identifying acute pollution and ensuring that the responsible polluter or local municipality implements the necessary response measures. NCA has established 27 oil spill response depots along the coastline, 16 of which are main depots. 

Under the Pollution Control Act, the national contingency system is divided into private, municipal and governmental contingency areas with specific responsibilities.  All contingency plans and organisations are standardised and coordinated so that in the event of a major national emergency, the national contingency system will work as a single integrated response organisation.  The system is highly developed with equipment widely distributed throughout the country. Industrial plants that might cause significant oil pollution are obliged to establish an adequate level of preparedness.  Governmental requirements primarily apply to operators on the Norwegian Continental Shelf, the crude oil terminals, refineries and companies distributing oil products as well as major industrial companies. 

In Norway the 430 municipalities are divided into 32 intermunicipal preparedness areas, each with their own approved contingency plan.  Local authorities are responsible for dealing with minor acute spills that occur within the municipality due to normal activity, and which are not covered by the polluter’s private contingency arrangements.  The local authorities, the fire departments, the port authorities etc all collaborate on municipal preparedness.  In addition, the municipalities have an obligation to assist the government in the event of a major oil pollution event.   

The NCA provides for major incidents not covered by, or beyond the capabilities, of the municipal and private contingency plans by providing equipment, material, vessels and personnel, including expert advisers. There is an obligation on all parties required to have a contingency plan to provide assistance to other such parties should the need arise.  In the event of a major spill, government may call upon industry to aid their response. In such cases, equipment may be used from a number of industry stockpiles including the Norwegian Clean Seas Association for Operating Companies (NOFO). This was established to ensure that Norwegian North Sea offshore operators complied with the authorities’ oil spill contingency requirements for E&P rigs and platforms.

The NCA maintains copies of inter-community contingency plans, which contain data on local coastal sensitivities. The Administration has a Marine Resource Database (MRDB) including coastline sensitivity maps. A mutual agreement policy exists, whereby the Coastal Administration notifies any organisation potentially at risk of a spill. This cascade notification system ensures, for example, that the appropriate fisheries department is alerted to a spill, and then disseminates the message to affected fish farmers. 

Response Policy

The primary objective is to contain and recover the oil as close to the source as possible. Chemical dispersion is considered to be supplementary to physical removal. To this end, every organisation required to have an oil spill contingency plan should consider dispersant use as a strategy. The Climate and Pollution Agency (Klif), under the Ministry of Environment, is the competent authority for dispersant approval and regulations. 

Disposal of oily waste in local domestic waste sites is dependent upon local authority regulations, but these never allow greater than 3% oil content. If this criteria is not met, the waste may be dealt with through a nationally co-ordinated waste disposal scheme, in which all the major waste disposal companies in Norway participate. Cement plants are sometimes used for incineration, whilst landfill and land farming have also been used.



The NCA maintains oil spill response depots along the coast, which hold a variety of booms, skimmers, off-loading units and other response kit. In addition, there are booms and skimmers stored on 9 Coast Guard vessels and 4 specialised recovery vessels operated by the Coastal Administration, as well as smaller equipment, protective clothing etc. Also, a number of naval defence vessels are on contract, capable of oil recovery, transportation or acting as a lead offshore command vessel.  Vessels from the civilian coastal patrol (Norwegian Sea Rescue) can also be used, as well as vessels of opportunity such as fishing boats.

The NCA operates an aircraft equipped with SLAR, capable of tracking spills in both good and poor visibility (day and night), and a photo phone system enabling immediate downloading of still photographs to the main office in Horten. As an extension of this, it attempts to make use of radar satellites run by Konsberg Satellite Services which aims to provide information on substantial oil spills within 2 hours of the satellite overpass.


NOFO has a number of large supply ships at its disposal which can be converted for oil recovery operations at short notice and maintains 5 equipment depots, at Stavanger, Mongstad (Austervoll), Kristiansund, Traena (Bodø) and Hammerfest. All have similar, compatible equipment, consisting of large heavy duty containment and recovery systems. In addition, NOFO have contracted helicopters to enable infra red photography with a down link system with responding ships, allowing oil movement monitoring and recovery both at day and night, and for limited dispersant spraying operations.

The oil industry also maintains large stockpiles of equipment, including vessels, at the oil refinery terminals of Statoil Mongstad and Esso Slagen and at the crude oil terminal of Norsk Hydro Sture. Several bunker stations have small amounts of equipment.

Because of the extensive range of equipment held by national and local government agencies and the oil industry, there is little call for clean-up contractors in Norway.

Previous Spill Experience

Norway has suffered a number of spills related to offshore petroleum activity, including the platform explosion at the EKOFISK oil field in 1977, which resulted in the loss of 20,000 tonnes of oil. There have also been a few sizeable ship-source spills. In 2007 the bulk carrier MV SERVER ran aground some 30 nautical miles north of Bergen spilling an estimated 375 tonnes of IFO 180.  Shoreline clean-up operations were conducted using mainly local labour, improvised equipment and manual techniques. In 2009 the bulk carrier FULL CITY grounded off Langesund spilling a quantity of IFO 180 which subsequently contaminated about 100km of shore. Due to the rocky, heavily-indented nature of the coastline, clean-up was logistically difficult and was mainly carried out manually with limited use of heavy machinery or aggressive cleaning techniques. The container ship GODAFOSS grounded in southern Norway, 10km from the Swedish border, in February 2011 and about 120 tonnes of IFO 380 was released into the sea. Over 500 birds, mainly eider ducks, were estimated to have been oiled. The presence of large quantities of sea ice, coupled with temperatures of around -20°C, posed a challenge to ordinary spill response techniques and strategies. One of the more effective techniques involved a combination of brush belt skimmers assisted by steam heating jets which enhanced the separation of oil from ice. This incident provided an opportunity to observe the Copenhagen Agreement in action, which facilitated the integration of the Swedish Coastguard into the response operation.

Hazardous & Noxious Substances

The competent authority for dealing with marine pollution involving HNS is the NCA. A national system for preparedness and response to HNS spills at sea similar to that for oil pollution has not yet been established - except for the capability to handle HNS pollution with behaviour similar to oil spills – but the NCA is about to start the preparatory work on this.  At present, Norway’s capability for responding to marine incidents involving HNS is very limited and mainly relies on the same resources as for oil pollution response.  A risk assessment for the transport of HNS along the Norwegian coast was made in 2004 and recommendations have been made based on specific relevant scenarios.  Norway partly covers response to HNS in its NCP and has some specialised equipment for monitoring marine spills of HNS.  It has not previously been involved in any HNS spills at sea (Information from EMSA, 2008). Norway was the first country to become a contracting state to the 2010 HNS Convention.


Prevention & Safety

MARPOL Annexes

Spill Response



'69 '76 '92 '92Fund

* not yet in force  The conventions are extended to the following dependent territories: Jan Mayen Island; Svalbard archipelago (including Spitsbergen and other islands); and the Norwegian Antarctic Territories.

Regional & Bilateral Agreements

  • Bonn Agreement (countries bordering the North Sea).
  • Norbrit Plan (a bilateral contingency plan with the UK).
  • Copenhagen Agreement (with Denmark, Finland, Iceland & Sweden).
  • Bilateral agreement with the Russian Federation for the Barents Sea.
  • Arctic Council (with Canada, Denmark (including Greenland and the Faroe Islands), Finland, Iceland, Russia, Sweden and the United States).

Date of issue: August 2018

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