Planning for Progress and Growth

Singapore’s economy grew by 2.9 per cent in 2014, and the Ministry of Trade and Industry (MTI) expects this to continue in 2015, with a projected growth of 2.0 to 4.0 per cent as the global economy strengthens modestly.

The maritime industry is one of the key contributors to Singapore’s gross domestic product (GDP), making up 7.0 per cent of the economy. As a major global builder of jack-up rigs and semi-submersible drilling rigs, Singapore is also one of the world’s premier ship repair centres. The conversion of Floating Production, Storage and Offloading (FPSO) and Floating Storage and Offloading (FSO) units, as well as the building of customised and specialised vessels are also significant contributors to the industry. There are currently more than 5,000 maritime companies in Singapore, employing 170,000 workers.

The manufacturing sector, which includes the transport engineering cluster, contracted by 1.3 per cent year-on-year, a reversal from the 1.7 per cent growth in the previous quarter. The contraction was primarily due to the transport engineering and electronics clusters. Based on International Enterprise (IE) Singapore’s Trade Report 2014, oil domestic exports rose by 0.5 per cent in 2014, compared to the 0.3 per cent decline in the previous year. In volume terms, oil domestic exports rose by 7.2 per cent in 2014, following a growth of 5.3 per cent in 2013. Meanwhile, oil re-exports contracted by 14.1 per cent in 2014, following the 23.3 per cent decrease in the previous year. In volume terms, oil re-exports contracted by 7.9 per cent in 2014, following the previous year’s decrease of 19.3 per cent.

Oil prices fell to record lows in the last quarter of 2014, before dropping further in January this year. However, prices have started to recover with OPEC raising the official selling prices (OSPs) for oil deliveries to Asia and the United States in March, a move widely seen as a vote of confidence in oil prices. Brent crude rose and held above US$60 a barrel despite global concerns of oversupply due to the shale oil revolution in the United States. Iraqi Oil Minister Adel Abdel Mahdi has also been quoted as expecting prices to recover to US$64 or US$65 a barrel.

Port Statistics and Developments

Singapore’s port has played a major role in the country’s economic growth, and is now the second busiest port in the world. No mean feat for a country facing fierce competition from China’s Shanghai port. However, constant evolution is the name of the game in Singapore, and continual technological advances means that port operating systems such as PORTNET and CITOS are part and parcel of the port experience in Singapore.

In 2014, total cargo reached 581.268 million tonnes, an increase over 2013’s 560.888 million tonnes. Of this, containerised general cargo made up 353.538 million tonnes; conventional general cargo made up 30.880 million tonnes; oil bulk cargo made up 181.679 million tonnes; and non-oil bulk cargo made up 15.170 million tonnes.

Total vessel arrivals numbered 134,883 while vessel arrivals by gross tonnage reached 2,371.107 million. Total tanker arrivals numbered 22,218. Tanker arrivals by gross tonnage reached 707.464 million.

Total container throughput reached 33.869 million TEUs, an increase compared to 2013’s 32.579 million TEUs. Bunker sales was slightly lower in 2014 compared to 2013 at 42.417 million tonnes.

In order to expand port capacity, space remains one of the main challenges in the nation state. To battle this, all container operations will be consolidated at a single terminal in Tuas, on the west side of the island. Chosen for its sheltered deep waters and proximity to international shipping routes, the consolidated terminal will benefit from economies of scale and increased efficiency, especially from eliminating the need for inter-terminal haulage. Land reclamation and dredging works will provide about 300 hectares of additional land from the sea, while dredging will deepen the harbour and enable it to accommodate larger vessels, especially in light of the trend towards ever expanding container vessels.

When completed and operational, the consolidated port at Tuas will be able to handle up to 65 million TEUs per year. Work on the Tuas port is scheduled to begin in May this year, and is expected to be completed by 2021.

Liquid Natural Gas and Bunkering

The Maritime and Port Authority of Singapore (MPA) is looking to establish a Liquid Natural Gas (LNG) bunkering pilot programme, and it aims to have it set up by early 2017, which could make LNG a viable a fuel option by 2020. As the International Energy Agency (IEA) recommends Asian economies to reform their natural gas markets to enable expansion of the sector, this pilot programme comes at an opportune time.

MPA has also declared that revised bunkering guidelines will come into effect on 1 September 2015. Announced last year at the SIBCON 2014 conference, once the revised guidelines come into effect all bunker suppliers, bunker craft operators and bunker surveyors in Singapore are required to comply with the Singapore Standard SS 600 : 2014 – Code of Practice for Bunkering and SS 524 : 2014 – Quality Management for Bunker Supply Chain. According to MPA, the SS 600 : 2014 sets out guidelines and procedures to ensure that the correct quality and quantity of bunkers are being delivered safely and efficiently while the SS 524 : 2014 puts in place a comprehensive quality management system for the bunker supply chain.

Research for the Future

In a bid for constant enhancements and improvements, various research and development programmes and collaborations are being put in place. MPA and ship classification society ClassNK signed a memorandum of understanding (MOU) to collaborate on maritime technologies research and development (R&D) to enhance ship safety and environmental sustainability. The collaboration will result in both organisations promoting and sharing maritime thought-leadership on technology through activities such as conferences, workshops and joint R&D projects.

As part of the MOU, Singapore’s Nanyang Technological University and Sembcorp Marine Technology Pte. Ltd. are teaming up with Nippon Yusen Kabushiki Kaisha, the Monohakobi Technology Institute and ClassNK for research on an exhaust gas cleaning system (EGCS) that is intended for use outside of emission control areas (ECAs) to control sulphur oxide emissions. This is to ensure compliance with future sulphur oxide emission regulations which are expected to come into effect by 2020 or 2025. The MOU will also cover R&D in areas such as safe ships, smart ships, environmentally friendly ships and marine renewable energy.

A*STAR’s Institute of High Performance Computing (IHPC), Sembcorp Marine Ltd, University of Glasgow and University of Glasgow Singapore (UGS) have also signed an MOU to develop new hull designs for large ocean-going vessels to make them more environmentally friendly. The new hull designs will improve hydrodynamics and better fuel efficiency. Under the three-year MOU, features to reduce exhaust emissions and discharges through enhancing the vessel’s scrubber and ballast treatment systems will also be researched.

Academic training will also be provided as part of talent training and development. The University of Glasgow, which one of the top 100 universities in the world, and UGS will provide academic training and certification to staff of Sembcorp Marine who enroll as students under the Industrial Postgraduate Programme.

These MOUs, together with other programmes and initiatives, will help propel Singapore’s maritime industry to further heights. Furthermore, the combination of additional capacity and capabilities of the new Tuas port and other developments in Singapore brings exciting new infrastructure that will support future growth and advancement.

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