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$30 million autonomous vessel construction contract signed

Norwegian Prime Minister Erna Solberg was present for the contract signing at the shipyard in Brevik, Norway Norwegian Prime Minister Erna Solberg was present for the contract signing at the shipyard in Brevik, Norway

YARA reports that it has signed a deal with shipyard VARD worth approximately NOK 250 million (US$30 million) to build the autonomous container vessel Yara Birkeland, scheduled to be delivered for launch in early 2020.

{mprestriction ids="1,2"}The new all-electric vessel will initially undertake manned operation before moving to fully autonomous operation by 2022.

In May 2017, YARA and technology company Kongsberg announced a partnership to build the new ship with the aim of replacing 40,000 truck journeys a year, reducing NOx and CO2 emissions and improving road safety in a densely populated urban area.

Every day, more than 100 diesel truck journeys are needed to transport products from Yara’s Porsgrunn fertilizer plant in Norway to ports in Brevik and Larvik, where the company ships products to customers around the world. With this new autonomous battery-driven container vessel YARA will move those journeys from road to sea.

“A vessel like Yara Birkeland has never been built before, and we rely on teaming up with partners with an entrepreneurial mindset and cutting edge expertise,” said Svein Tore Holsether, president and CEO of YARA.

“VARD combines experience in customised ship building with leading innovation, and will deliver a game-changing vessel which will help us lower our emissions, and contribute to feeding the world while protecting the planet.”

Yara Birkeland is scheduled to be delivered from Vard Brevik in Norway in Q1 2020, with the hull to be delivered from Vard Braila in Romania. Kongsberg is responsible for the delivery of technologies to enable remote and autonomous operations, including the sensors and integration work.

“Yara Birkeland represents an important next step for the entire maritime industry, representing a major technological and sustainable advancement. The Norwegian maritime cluster has taken a leading position within technology, design, legislation, testing and all other aspects of the development,” said Geir Håøy, CEO of KONGSBERG.

The project has received NOK 133.6 million (US$16 million) in support from the Norwegian government via its ENOVA arm.{/mprestriction}

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