26 April 2017

Distinguished guests,



Ladies and gentlemen,



It is a pleasure to be here with you at the 10th Annual International Chemical and Oil Pollution Conference and Exhibition (ICOPCE), held in conjunction with Singapore Maritime Week (SMW) 2017.


Importance of prevention


2       Singapore lies along some of the world’s busiest shipping lanes. While this has helped our port to grow, it also makes us susceptible to the impact of oil and chemical pollution – even those that occur in neighbouring waters.


3       Recently in January, there was a collision between two container vessels, WAN HAI 301 and APL DENVER, off Johor’s Pasir Gudang Port. Though the incident happened outside Singapore waters, the oil spill resulted in pollution of our waters and coastline, and a two-week clean-up operation was needed, involving multiple agencies.  


4       This is a timely reminder that while global oil and chemical spill incidence rates have declined since the 1970s[1] , vigilance remains key, and all the more so given their transboundary impact.


Singapore’s commitment to safe and clean waters


5       Let me share briefly how Singapore plays its part in prevention of incidents and pollution.


6       On the international front, Singapore is party to all six Annexes of the International Convention for the Prevention of Pollution from Ships, more commonly known as the MARPOL Convention. Through effective regulation of MARPOL standards, we minimise the risks from Singapore-registered ships trading around the world, and vessels calling at our port.


7       In working with the international community to raise the standards of safety, we introduced the first-ever International Safety@Sea Conference in 2016, where speakers and industry experts from various countries shared their knowledge and best practices, to promote safety awareness.


8       In the region, Singapore also works closely with our neighbours to keep the Straits of Malacca and Singapore safe for international shipping. Last year, in collaboration with Indonesia and Malaysia, we launched the “Safe Passage in the Singapore Strait” training package to equip mariners with navigational information on transiting the Strait.


9     Locally, we have undertaken a range of efforts to enhance navigational safety in our waters. Back in 2015, MPA announced that it would fund the installation of Automatic Identification System B (AIS-B) transponders and Electronic Chart Systems (ECS) on all harbour and pleasure craft. The new equipment would enable both ocean-going vessels and those smaller craft to track one another on their electronic chart displays, thus enhancing situational awareness and reduce the risk of incidents. Today, I’m pleased to announce that we have completed the $5 million initiative for more than 2,000 vessels.


10     But even with these measures, incidents will still happen. This is why, to ensure a high degree of preparedness, Singapore regularly holds multi-agency oil and chemical spill exercises, and also taps on these exercises to try out new methods in the field. For example, in October 2016, we tested “NeatSweep”, a new system for more effective application of dispersants when treating oil spills. This Friday, we will be conducting the multi-agency ChemSpill Exercise and I hope some of you will be able to observe our response. During the exercise, we will again deploy an Unmanned Aerial Vehicle (UAV) to provide aerial footage for better situational awareness and more effective monitoring of our operations.


Renewal of MOU between MPA and ITOPF


11     Even as we build our response capabilities, Singapore recognises the need to address post-incident issues, such as claims settlement. In 2007, MPA signed a Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) with the International Tanker Owners Pollution Federation Limited (or ITOPF) (pronounce as “‘eye toff”) for vessels covered by any of the International Group of P&I Clubs (IG P&I). The MOU sets out the rates for clean-up operations according to the types of vessels and equipment used, thereby minimising disagreement over rates and expediting the deployment of response resources and the subsequent claims settlement. 


12       Such an arrangement has allowed MPA to focus on immediate response during an actual incident. Today, I am pleased to announce that MPA and ITOPF will renew this MOU for a further 3 years.


Planning ahead to mitigate future risks


13     I have shared with you some of the efforts we have undertaken recently. But in keeping with the conference’s theme of “Keeping Pace with a New Era in Marine Environment Protection”, let me add that MPA is already gearing itself for the future. For a start, the maritime industry is seeing more prevalent use of LNG, and MPA will also be commencing our LNG bunker pilot programme this year. Even as we embark on this push for LNG as a clean fuel alternative, it is important to study and determine responses to LNG spills. I understand the conference will also have a session on LNG Bunkering Safety and Efficiency which, I hope will generate much useful discussion.


14     Additionally, as part of the recently announced MPA Living Lab, we are looking to harness data for smarter decision-making and optimised port operations. This will also help us better forecast traffic conditions more effectively, while at the same time allowing us to respond better to incidents.




15     To conclude, even as we prepare for the future, there is one constant we need to keep in mind. This is the need to foster a strong maritime community, as prevention and response cannot be done alone. ICOPCE, along with other SMW events, provides the industry with the perfect platform for sharing of global best practices and establishing industry networks. I would like to take this opportunity to encourage you to join other SMW events, and listen to international maritime experts share their experiences in strengthening the maritime business and navigating current challenges.


16     With that, I wish you a fruitful and enjoyable time at ICOPCE and SMW. Thank you very much.

The International Chemical and Oil Pollution Conference was officially opened by Mr Niam Chiang Meng

MPA signed MOU with the International Tanker Owners Pollution Federation Limited (ITOPF) on oil spill response equipment and vessel rates in Singapore. MOU was signed by MPA's Ag Dir Ops/Portmaster, Capt Kevin Wong & Mr Richard Johnson, Tech Director, ITOPF and witnessed by Capt Segar, Asst Chief Executive (Operations), MPA.