Simulation of Iceberg Towing

Over the next 50 years, the world’s energy needs will double or triple. To succeed in such a future, the offshore industry will need to make their portfolios more diverse and develop new technologies. An offshore exploration of the Barents Sea is afflicted with challenges due to drifting icebergs of considerable dimensions. Hence, iceberg towing is necessary to prevent dangerous collisions between icebergs and offshore structures.

Figure 1: Typical Barents Sea IceberFigure 3: Iceberg towed by ship

Figure 1: Typical Iceberg in the Barents Sea (left). Iceberg towed by ship (right).

Against the background of intensified offshore explorations in the Barents Sea, it is important to manage these towing processes in a safe and reliable way. First experience with iceberg towing has been obtained in Canada, where many icebergs drift southwards along the East Greenland current. About 20% of the related towing attempts are not successful, primarily due to breaking and slipping ropes from rotating icebergs. Accordingly, recent experiments performed in the Barents Sea confirmed these technical difficulties and uncertainties associated to the towing process of large icebergs.

Figure 2: Size comparision of the iceberg (Figure 1) and ice resistant platform concepts in the Barents Sea. 

Figure 2: Size comparision of the iceberg (Figure 1) and ice resistant platform concepts in the Barents Sea.

The goal of the project is to develop, validate and apply a two dimensional mathematical model of an iceberg’s motion during the towing process. The model should mimic the rotation of the iceberg accurately and describe the floating condition under towing. The implementation of the iceberg-motion model into a numerical towing-model should facilitate the analysis of a successful towing process.

Figure 3: Iceberg model test for validation.Figure 3: Iceberg model test for validation.

Figure 3: Iceberg model test for validation.




Prof. Dr.-Ing. Thomas Rung
Dipl.-Ing. Christian Ulrich


Norwegian University of Science and Technology
Prof. Sveinung Løset

The University Centre in Svalbard
Prof. Aleksey Marchenko

University of Stavanger
Prof. Ove Tobias Gudmestad


up-to-date: 2009-05-05

Back to Current Projects