Published on: May 18, 2017

The world’s first ship tunnel will be built in Norway at a cost of NK 2.7 billion (€ 294.8 million) and will require blasting through nearly 8 million tons of rock. Known as the Stad Ship Tunnel, it is a part of the NNTP (Norwegian National Transport Plan) for the period 2018-29. Upon completion, the tunnel will be 1.7 kilometres long, 37 metres high and 26.5 metres wide and would allow large ships to avoid the turbulent waters of the Stadhavet Sea. The coast of Norway is unique as a maritime landmark for the challenges it poses to shippers and within this region, Stadhavet Sea is the most exposed and dangerous area.

The Stad Ship Tunnel will allow ships to navigate through Stad area more safely. The tunnel, which is expected to pass through the narrowest point of the Stadlandet peninsula, will open in 2023; it will accommodate cruise and freight ships weighing up to 16,000 tonnes. Under NNTP, priority will be given to passenger and freight vessels but leisure boats among other vessels will also be allowed to use the tunnel. For vessels measuring less than 70 metres, passage through the tunnel will be free of cost. Traffic through the tunnel will be regulated by a traffic centre that will set timeslots for vessels to pass through the tunnel to avoid congestion.

The NCA (Norwegian Coastal Administration) is expected to present a pilot project to the Norwegian government anytime now. Thereafter, the Norwegian legislature will formally decide on funding the project up to NK 1 billion (€ 106.4 million) but not before it undergoes the external quality assurance process (KS2). Blasting of around 8 million tonnes of rock will be achieved through conventional methods using underground drilling rigs and pallet rigs. Ketil Solvik-Olsen, transport minister of Norway, noted that ocean currents and underwater topography in the region “result in particularly complex wave conditions”.

Over the years, Norwegian authorities had been planning to build this ship tunnel in the Stad region but it is only now that a project with funding is ready to get implemented. The minister said, “We are pleased that the ship tunnel will now become a reality”. The project manager, Terje Andreassen, expects work on the tunnel to begin in 2019. With regard to the enormous challenge of blasting nearly 8 million tonnes of rock, he reckoned that it would be better to opt for conventional blasting methods to achieve the objective. The idea of such a tunnel was first proposed by the Norwegian newspaper, Nordre Bergenhus Amtstidende, in an article in 1874.