NATO sub base to be center for Arctic oil rigs

Tunnels for submarines inside the mountain at Olavsvern. Photo: Skifte Eiendom

Norwegian Ministry of Defense approves sale of Olavsvern naval base outside Tromsø to an investor group that will create a service center for offshore petroleum industry.


Olavsvern was built during the Cold War with NATO-funding and holds tunnels into the mountain where Norwegian and allied submarines could hide or get supplies while on patrol in Arctic waters. Both American and British nuclear powered submarines used to make port calls to the base that is located some 20 kilometers outside Tromsø.

The base was officially written-off by NATO in April last year, following the restructuring of the Norwegian navy. Stortinget (the Parliament) decided to close down the base in 2008. In addition to the port facilities, the base has a 25,000 square meters mountain facility including tunnels with direct access to sea for vessels. It has a dock for submarines and a helipad.

Olavsvern was put out for sale last autumn. See photos from the sales promotion here.

The sale to the investor group Triko AS was approved by the ministry on Wednesday. The group consists of several private investors, including Odfjell Drilling, PSW Rig Service and has cooperation with Petro Support Group.

The buyers want to use the former naval base as a maintain center for rigs and subsea equipment that will be drilling in the Arctic. Defense Minister Anne-Grete Strøm-Erichsen says in a press-release that it is positive that others, outside the military, can make use of the facilities for value creation activities.

Simultaneously as the Defense Ministry announced the sale, The Norwegian Petroleum Directorate presented a study saying that Norway’s formerly disputed with Russia southeastern Barents Sea likely holds 1.9 billion barrels of oil equivalent. 

Triko AS pays NOK 38,1 million (€5,1 million), not at all a bad deal taken into account that the building cost of the secret NATO submarine base according to TV2 was NOK 3 billion (€400 million),