OPENING ADDRESS BY MR NIAM CHIANG MENG, CHAIRMAN OF THE MARITIME AND PORT AUTHORITY OF SINGAPORE, AT THE INTERNATIONAL CHEMICAL AND OIL POLLUTION CONFERENCE AND EXHIBITION ON 22 OCTOBER 2019

22 October 2019

         Good morning distinguished guests. Welcome to the International Chemical and Oil Pollution Conference and Exhibition 2019.

2       I am delighted to note that this year’s event has attracted over 250 participants representing 18 countries. In addition, we have a record number of 50 experts sharing their insights on a range of topics from digital applications on pollution prevention to inter-governmental collaboration in mitigating regional pollution risks.

3       As a responsible hub port and flag state, the Maritime and Port Authority of Singapore champions a culture of spill prevention in the transportation of oil and chemicals. To this end, MPA adopts a 2P 3R strategy in managing spills. The 2P 3R strategy involves Planning, Prevention, Response, Recovery and Review. This conference is one of our key initiatives in advancing the 2P 3R strategy.

Importance of managing chemical and oil pollution through prevention

4       Today, I am heartened to see so many of you possessing a strong interest in protecting our marine environment against chemical and oil pollution. While, in Singapore, we have noted a decline in the number of oil spill incidents resulting from marine accidents, there has been an upward trend in the number of operational spills during bunkering over the past few years. Contrary to common perception, bulk carriers and container vessels contribute to such pollution incidents more than tankers do. 

5       As such, we all play a significant role in chemical and oil spill prevention and response. Besides managing the downstream consequences of spills, we need to promote greater awareness of upstream means to prevent spills in the first place. This involves enhancing awareness, promoting a culture of responsibility, and deploying technology to prevent spills along the entire supply chain. 

Digital applications play an important role in pollution prevention and response

6       In line with this year’s conference theme ‘Smart Technologies and Intelligent Operations for Marine Environment Protection’, we will be examining digital applications for incident prevention and response, as well as related case studies on pollution management. 

7       In April this year, the Singapore Maritime Institute or SMI partnered MPA to refresh the Maritime R&D Roadmap 2025, now called the ‘Singapore R&D Roadmap 2030: Maritime Transformation’. Amongst various plans, the roadmap seeks to enhance the operational capabilities of monitoring, mitigating and containing oil spills and chemical leakages.

8       MPA’s initiatives like PIER71, which fosters the exchange of ideas, attracts investments and accelerates ventures in the maritime space, have also made positive contributions in this domain. Out of the PIER71 platform, Vopak Terminals, for instance, has developed smart terminal technologies that make use of algorithms from CCTV footage to detect leaks, which could happen during cargo loading and unloading at the terminals. 

9       Indeed, today we are seeing the disruption that smart technologies and intelligent operations are bringing to benefit incident prevention, management and marine environmental protection. Later today, we can expect to discover more about latest technologies, such as Remotely Operated Vehicles and Remote Sensing Unmanned Aerial Vehicles, in safe inspection and incident impact assessment. At the exhibition, we can see eight local and international companies demonstrate their spill response technologies and solutions.

Strong governmental partnerships mitigate regional pollution risks 

10       Apart from adopting technological solutions, Singapore maintains and develops strong inter-agency partnerships in the region. As part of the bilateral cooperation programme under the Malaysia-Singapore Joint Committee on the Environment, for instance, both countries regularly conduct joint exercises to test the Joint Emergency Response Plan for Chemical Incidents in the East Johor Strait. 

11       As part of ICOPCE 2019, MPA will also be conducting a multi-agency ChemSpill Exercise on Thursday to test Singapore's readiness in the event of a chemical spill incident. 

12       In addition, Singapore, together with Malaysia and Indonesia, are members of the Revolving Fund Committee. The committee meets annually to discuss issues relating to oil spills and update the standard operating procedures for Joint Oil Spill Combat in the Straits of Malacca and Singapore. 

13       Singapore is also a signatory to the Memorandum of Understanding on ASEAN Cooperation Mechanism for Joint Oil Spill Preparedness and Response. We have contributed actively to regional response capabilities by sharing Singapore’s management strategies for oil spill incidents at the first ASEAN Regional Oil Spill Contingency Plan Committee Meeting in August this year.  

14       On the international front, Singapore is party to all six Annexes of the MARPOL Convention. Through effective regulation and enforcement of MARPOL standards, we minimise the pollution risks of Singapore-registered ships around the world and vessels calling at our port.

Conclusion

15       Singapore lies along one of the busiest shipping route in the world. This makes us vulnerable to oil and chemical pollution. As such, we must not only embrace technological innovations that strengthen incident prevention and response, but also foster strong regional partnerships in driving marine sustainability. 

16       With that, I wish you an insightful and rewarding conference. Thank you very much.