Small group of companies dominate the ocean economy

oil rig at sunset
Image: Geographical

Most of the revenue extracted from the oceans is concentrated among 100 multinationals

Dubbed the “Ocean 100,” an exclusive club of ocean economy companies have been identified by researchers at Duke and Stockholm Universities. The study examined eight core industries in the ocean economy and found a consistent pattern – a small number of companies accounting for the bulk of revenues.

An oil platform at sea with a helicopter flying away from it
Oil platform | Image: FairLifts

Collectively, the Ocean 100 generated $1.1 trillion in revenues in 2018. If the group were a country, it would have the world’s 16th-largest economy, roughly equivalent to the gross domestic product (GDP) of Mexico. Offshore oil and gas dominated the Ocean 100 list with a combined revenue of $830 billion. The only corporation from outside that industry to make the top 10 is the Danish shipping company A.P. Møller-Mærsk at No. 9.

A Maersk container ship at sea
Container ship | Image: Maersk

The small number of companies that dominate these industries likely reflects high barriers to entry in the ocean economy. A lot of expertise and capital are needed to operate in the sea

John Virdin, lead author and director of the Ocean and Coastal Policy Program at Duke’s Nicholas Institute for Environmental Policy Solutions

The Ocean 100 study expands existing research conducted into the ‘blue economy’. “Now that we know who some of the biggest beneficiaries from the ocean economy are, this can help improve transparency relating to sustainability and ocean stewardship,” said lead author John Virdin.


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