Singapore maritime industry stays resilient despite supply chain disruptions

At the Asia Pacific Maritime 2022 event in Singapore, guest of honor Quah Ley Hoon, CEO of Maritime and Port Authority of Singapore in her keynote speech on March 16, reiterated how the three Ds and two Ps have helped Singapore’s maritime industry to become more resilience in these trying times of supply chain disruptions.

The three Ds are Digitalization, Decarbonization, and Disruption, while the two Ps are People and Partnership.   

She said: “On digitalization, MPA created digitalPORT@SGTM which is an one-stop digital port clearance platform. Fortunately, we did that just before the onset of the pandemic. It allowed us to move towards paperless port clearance, and it also saved an estimated 100,000 man-hours for the industry each year. 

“We will continue to push ahead by with Phase 2, which has a Just-in-Time element for better coordination – vessels would be able to line up marine services before arriving at our port. 

“What is more heartening is that even during this pandemic, our small and medium enterprises pushed ahead with their digitalization transformation efforts. SMEs play an important role in supply chains, and so it is important for SMEs to move forward together. We have supported SMEs in adoption of digital solutions, and guided companies in their digital transformation journeys using the Maritime Digitalization Playbook. 

On decarbonization, she said that Singapore is “moving towards a multi-fuel bunkering transition, which means that Singapore, as a bunkering hub, needs to cater to the different types of fuels in the next few years. 

“For LNG, we have conducted 24 ship-to-ship LNG bunkering operations in Singapore in 2021, and have also commenced biofuel bunkering trials. We are supporting different consortiums on ammonia, and just welcomed a hydrogen-powered and zero-emission yacht in our waters last Thursday. 

“Just last week, Minister for Transport Mr S Iswaran launched our Maritime Singapore Decarbonization Blueprint: Working Towards 2050. This follows months of consultation with the industry, and arose from the recommendations of the International Advisory Panel. 

“This Blueprint laid out ambitious targets and long-term strategies for maritime decarbonisation. This will be achieved through efforts such as R&D, future fuel adoption, and building partnerships in areas such as green finance. The momentum is building up.  

“On Disruption, we are looking forward to technology and automation. Drones, for example, are being deployed for remote vessel inspections, hull cleaning, and shore-to-ship deliveries. We are also making progress on e-documentation such as e-bills of lading (eBL) and electronic bunker delivery note. eBLs are being trialled, with the potential to provide approximately US$4 billion in annual savings if half of the container shipping industry adopts it. We hope to scale up adoption and encourage more of you to go digital.” 

Quah added that focusing and nurturing people and partnerships have also made the maritime industry stronger.  However, she warned that the global supply chains will continue to be disrupted and that the industry should be bracing for the situation to aggravate.

“With the pandemic, we already saw many diverted vessels and more unscheduled port calls. With the war in Ukraine, the supply chain will be further disrupted, notably in the energy and food sectors. We must continue to brave various fronts.” 

In 2021, the Port of Singapore managed to hit a record-high container throughput of 37.5 million TEUs, and 50 million tons of bunkering volume to remain the largest bunkering hub in the world. Singapore also attracted 23 maritime companies to set up or expand operations. 

Photo caption: Quah Ley Hoon, CEO of Maritime and Port Authority of Singapore.

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