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Norway could produce over 10% of its farmed salmon on land. Meet the companies who could make that happen

If all of Norway’s ambitious land-based salmon farming projects succeed – and that’s a big if – the result could be a significant increase in production.

In 2015, Norwegian Fisheries Minister Elisabeth Aspaker’s administration jump-started land-based salmon globally by offering investors a tantalizing prospect: production would not require standard salmon farming licenses.

Though permitting is still required, it’s insignificant in cost when weighed against the demand for salmon and the current pricing climate. That said, skeptics abound about the future of the industry, and some projects have struggled to obtain financing, particularly when capital expenditures typically run in tens of millions of dollars.

So who’s in the mix? IntraFish looks at a list of the largest and most realistic projects underway.

Up and down the country

Land-based salmon farming entrepreneurs have been at work in Norway for a long time. The first to begin making progress has been Fredrikstad Seafood, which will complete Phase 1 of its project soon with a capacity of 1,500 metric tons. Most others in the country are in a far earlier stage.

Outside Norway's borders there are several land-based salmon plants under construction or in planning. Another of the main arguments for the industry finally being competitive is that proximity to key markets will further reduce costs, and provide fresher product that can fetch a premium.

“There are a number of projects in Norway, and one in Chile. As I see it, it makes no sense,” said recently Per Even Hauge, director of DNB Markets at an IntraFish Seafood Investor Forum in London.

Groups looking to build in Norway argue, however, that they have deep experience with salmon farming, stable conditions and good infrastructure.

Kautokeino and Fredrikstad are probably the most challenging operations in terms of location and implementation.

In between those two extremes, and almost all along the coast, there are a number of other initiatives at different stages.

One of those is headed up by former oil executive Geir Nordahl-Pedersen, who became wealthy with the sale of oil service company AGR in 2004. According to IntraFish Media sister company Dagens Næringsliv, private equity firm Altor paid around NOK 400-500 million (€42-42.4 million/$47.6-59.5 million) for the company, which gave Nordahl-Pedersen a take of around NOK 100 million (€10.5 million/$11.9 million).

Nordahl-Pedersen is currently registered with 22 different roles in Norwegian businesses, including chairman of Losna Seafood, the vehicle for three proposed land-based salmon operations in Solund, Øygarden and Averøy.

Nordahl-Pedersen told IntraFish two of the three operations will begin construction in 2019, and that a financial plan is in place.

First to market

Fredrikstad Seafood is finished with the construction of what will be Norway's first commercial land-based production facility, with a capacity of around 1,500 metric tons.

“It’s ready for production in December,” said Bernt-Olav Røttingsnes, CEO of Nordic Aquafarms, Fredrikstad Seafood’s parent company.

The next phase, which will expand capacity to 4,600 metric tons, is almost completed.

"We will make an investment decision on it in 2019. If we decide to build, it's mostly ready to get started quickly," Røttingsnes told IntraFish.

The company’s biggest plans are actually not in Norway, but in Maine. The operation there is expected to have a capacity of 33,000 metric tons.

"It's not important for us to be out in Norway first,” said Røttingsnes. “What is important to us is that the project in Fredrikstad will give us the expertise to build in many other places, like in Maine.”

(OUT NOW! IntraFish Land-Based Salmon Farming Report)

Who’s who? Here’s a look at the key players (alphabetical)

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Andfjord

Location: Andøy

Proposed capacity: 10,000 metric tons

Founder: Roy Bernt Pettersen

"We are working on completing the plan,” Pettresen told IntraFish. “All licenses are in place, and we expect to finish the first stage in 2020.” Earlier, Pettersen said the company planned to start construction in the spring of 2017 or spring 2018.

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Aquaculture Innovation

Owner: Norsk Havbrukssenter, which is owned by Arnfinn Torgnes and others

Location: Brønnøy

Proposed capacity: 10,000 metric tons

Brønnøysund Avis wrote in 2017 that the group “was in the early process,” and CEO Rolf Nordmo said that a comprehensive feasibility study has been sent to the municipality. The operation will incorporate tide water, not RAS technology.

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Bulandet Miljøfisk

Location: Askvoll

Proposed capacity: 5,500 metric tons

Project founders: Ola Sveen, others

The company published a message on its website last month saying they will begin construction on a pilot facility in spring 2019, and that they are “in concrete negotiations with investors.”

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Enprotech

Location: Kautokeino

Proposed capacity: 10,000 metric tons

The operation is, according to local officials, little more than an idea.

“As far as I know, there is no progress, and the project is lacking funding,” Kautokeino Mayor Johan Vasara said. “We wish them good luck and will do what we can to help make it happen.”

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Fredrikstad Seafood

Location: Fredrikstad

Proposed capacity: 6,000 metric tons

Project manager: Erik Heim

Owners: Nordic Aquafarms (mainly Rasmussen family)

The first phase of this project is expected to have a production capacity of around 1,500 metric tons, and will be ready for production in December. Decisions on a potential phase 2 will be made in 2019.

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Gigante Salmon

Location: Gildeskål, Norway

Proposed capacity: Unkonwn

Project developers: Kjell Lorentsen, Gigante Group

"We are working on reorganization and impact assessment, which is likely to take one year," Lorentsen told IntraFish. He declined to say more about the size of the project. Though Lorentsen said in May 2017 they hoped to begin construction in 2018 or the fall of 2019, they have encountered some regulatory difficulties.

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Havlandet

Location: Florø

Proposed capacity: 10,000 metric tons

Owners: INC Group (Per Arvid Nødset and Oddgeir Ragnar Igland)

On September 6, the company announced it received public support of NOK 15 million (€1.6 million/$1.8 million) to build an RAS pilot plant with a capacity of 200 metric tons.

"The long-term plan is to build a land-based aquaculture plant with an annual output of 10,000 metric tons of salmon of +/- 5 kilograms," the company wrote in the press release.

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Hjelvik Matfisk

Location: Rauma

Proposed capacity: 2,000 metric tons

Owners: Sverre Arnold Pedersen, Bjørn-Vegard Løvik, others

In November 2017, IntraFish wrote that Møre og Romsdal County Municipality had given the company permission to establish the facility with a capacity of 2,000 metric tons. The company had written in the application that they would get a step-by-step development and the plant would be completed in 2019.

CEO Sverre Pedersen previously told IntraFish funding was in place, but the company was unable to be reached for comment on further development.

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Kobbevik and Furuholmen

Location: Fitjar

Proposed capacity: 10,000 metric tons

The company has applied to the Norwegian Food Safety Authority for a plant for the production of 10,000 metric tons of market-sized salmon. In October, IntraFish wrote that the Norwegian Food Safety Authority rejected the application, which the company has since appealed.

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Losna Seafood

Locations: Averøy, Øygarden and Solund

Proposed capacity: Over 10,000 metric tons per plant

Project developer: Geir Nordahl-Pedersen

The company hopes to begin construction at two of the three plants in 2019.

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Salmofarms (formerly Akvafarm Rjukan)

Location: Rjukan in Telemark

Proposed capacity: 5,000 metric tons

Project developers: Carl Ivar Holmen and Sophus Jacob Kielland

Akvafarm Rjukan, as the company mentioned before, was among the first to publicly report on its plans. In October 2015, owners told Norwegian broadcaster NRK they would build a plant of 8,000 metric tons, with production starting in 2017.

In a text to IntraFish, Holmen said the company is working on project engineering. Construction is scheduled to begin in the spring of 2019. The plant will be 5,000 metric tons. All permits and funding are in place, according to Holmen.

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Salmon Evolution

Location: Fræna

Proposed capacity: 28,800 metric tons

Owner: Romsdalsfisk (Jonny Småge, Per Olav Mevold and Kristoffer Reitan)

CEO Ingjarl Skarvøy told IntraFish the plot and all permits are in place and they are now working financing to begin engineering work.

The first construction stage, which is planned to reach 7,000 metric tons, will be completed in 2021, if all goes to plan.

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Salmo Terra

Location: Near Bergen, Hordaland

Proposed capacity: 8,000 metric tons

Project developer: Harald Fiksdal

Permitting is in place for the project, and construction is scheduled to begin in early 2019, Fiksdal told IntraFish. The company is working on financing and has a contractor selected.

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Seafood Group

Location: Sund

Proposed capacity: 6,500 metric tons

Project developer: Petter B. Olsen

IntraFish wrote last month the company is frustrated that the county municipality has rejected its application. The governor of Hordaland County, where the operation will be located if approved, believes there is a lack of planning from the municipality of Sund.

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Tomren Fish

Location: Vestnes

Proposed capacity: 10,000 metric tons

Project developers: Kåre Olav Monstad, Jørgen Borthen and others

Borthen told IntraFish the group received permits for 10,000 metric tons of production just prior to the summer.

"The plot is ready and we are now working on technical issues and financing,” Borthen said. “The criteria for the permissions we received say that we must have a construction start no later than 2019 or early 2020.”

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Vadheim Akvapark

Location: Høyanger

Proposed capacity: 5,000 - 6,000 metric tons

Danish feed company Aller Aqua is behind the plans at the plant. The company said in June 2018 the project was in a start-up phase and that necessary applications would be submitted "soon.” The plant is proposed to be built by Israeli RAS supplier Aqua Maof.

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OUT NOW! IntraFish Land-Based Salmon Farming Report

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