Transfer of cargo oil in Danish and Greenland waters

​​​​​​​​​"Ship to Ship” (STS) operations refer to the transfer of cargo from the cargo hold of one tanker to that of another. The operation is covered by a number of special safety procedures.

STS operations

The number of STS operations in Danish waters is increasing. This is primarily due to the export of Russian oil since the Danish straits are not sufficiently deep for large tankers to pass when fully loaded.

Increased demand for liquefied natural gas is also expected to lead to similar transfers of these products at sea.

STS operations are also extremely useful in connection with pollution prevention. If a tanker has experienced a grounding, collision or another accident and there is a risk that the cargo will leak out, it is important that the cargo is transferred to another ship as quickly as possible. This will also have the form of an STS operation.

In Danish waters, STS operations are typically carried out off Frederikshavn in the Aalbæk Bay or at the Bay of Kalundborg.

On 1 October 2014, new regulations on STS operations in Danish and Greenland territory entered into force. You can find them here.

According to the order on STS operations, STS operations in Danish and Greenland territorial waters must be carried out under the guidance and supervision of an approved STS operator and in accordance with the most recent recommendations.

The Danish Maritime Authority is responsible for the approval

The Danish Maritime Authority approves STS operators upon application. The STS operator must pay the costs related to the approval.

Approved STS operators must use a quality management system that ensures that their tasks are performed in accordance with the provisions of the order. The Danish Maritime Authority monitors the operations in Danish and Greenland waters on an ongoing basis.

The Defence Command, Naval Staff, as well as the Arctic Command must be informed about the transfer and tankers carrying out cargo transfers in Danish territorial waters are covered by the obligation to take a pilot in accordance with the pilotage act.

As regards STS operations outside Denmark's territorial waters, the provisions of United Nations' International Maritime Organization (IMO) apply.

The regulations stipulate that the operation must be carried out in accordance with an approved plan, which is based on the ship's construction, equipment and valid industry guidelines for "best practice" in the area.

In addition, the operation must be reported to the relevant authorities in the coastal State.
Read more about STS operations
List of approved operators


Maritime Regulation and Legal Affairs
Steen Møller Nielsen, Senior Adviser
+45 72 19 63 76