12 September 2019

Your Excellency Anita Nergaard, Norwegian Ambassador to Singapore
Wong Toon Suan, President, Gas Association of Singapore & Chairman, LNG Marine Fuel Forum
Ladies and gentlemen

1. Good morning to all.

2. This forum is timely. Just last week, I was invited to christen Sinanju Tanker’s “Marine Vicky” at the Keppel Nantong shipyard. This will be Singapore’s first LNG-fuelled bunker tanker.

3. Over the next two years, we can also expect to see at least two LNG bunker tankers operating in the Port of Singapore promoting ship-to-ship LNG bunkering in the Port of Singapore.

4. These are significant steps towards preparing Singapore as a leading LNG bunkering hub and providing the industry the infrastructure for LNG refuelling in the Straits of Malacca and Singapore, one of the busiest shipping routes in the world. 

5. There is so much I wanted to share on LNG and our plans in Singapore but I was told you would be hearing a lot of it with experts around. So I was asked to speak about Maritime Singapore. It was an exciting moment for me as I reflected on how Maritime Singapore is gaining momentum in our ambitions for cleaner, greener energy and technologies for a more sustainable future. This is part of our larger vision and ambition that is enshrined in MPA’s mission – to be a premier global hub port and an international maritime centre for the shipping world.

A new normal for the maritime industry

6. Maritime Singapore’s ambitions must first be placed in a larger context of where the global maritime industry is moving towards. In fact, I say that our industry is moving towards a new baseline, underpinned by three “D”s.

7. The first “D” is Disruption. Trade patterns are shifting rapidly. Customers’ demands and expectations are ever higher. Players in the industry are consolidating vertically and horizontally. Start-ups from the outside are making forays into the sector. New vulnerabilities (such as cyber attacks) are showing.

8. The second “D” - Digitalisation. The digital will become the new fuel of the future. Information and data will power up our industry as we tap into big data insights. The blurring of lines will happen not just between shore and sea, but between physical and virtual, between man and machine, between system to system.

9. The Third “D” - Decarbonisation. The international community at the IMO has already set emission targets. We must now plot how to get there. What is the future of shipping and what is the technology that shipping companies can invest on a commercial scale?

10. These are the trends we are watching closely, and positioning ourselves to tap on the next wave to stay ahead of the curve. How do we plan to do just that?

11. We have already mapped out, together with the industry, the vision of our international maritime centre for 2030 (IMC2030) and Singapore’s next generation port (NGP2030). On R&D and talent, we have roadmaps set out to 2025.

12. But, we are already now thinking through our plans beyond 2030. What do we need to do more to enhance connectivity, innovation and talent.

13. For today, I will elaborate on the two key areas of connectivity and innovation.


14. The future Maritime Singapore will go beyond maritime. It will be about inter-modal linkages with land, air, and the logistics sectors. We have a well-connected airport connected to 400 cities all over the world in more than 100 countries. Our seaport is already connected to more than 600 ports in over 120 countries.

15. These inter-modal linkages are what we want to reinforce. We want to also level up our logistics capabilities to bring about new possibilities and raise efficiencies in the global supply chain.

16. Second, Maritime Singapore will be where connectivity is beyond physical flows to include digital flows, data flows and financial flows. Singapore can move beyond a physical hub to be a digital hub. Think of it as Singapore as a gateway to a vast “digital OCEAN”. My Senior Minister of State Dr Lam Pin Min coined this term last month at the International Safety @ Sea Week in Singapore.

17. There is a strong push towards greater digitalisation and we are seeing the private sector and port administrators/operators digitalising their processes. There is scope for greater global digital connectivity where systems can talk to each other.

18. We know that there are many like-minded countries, companies and organisations around the world (including the IMO) that want to champion connectivity. Shipping is after all global. What better place to realise this vision other than Singapore when we have all of you here!

19. Third, the centrepiece of our connectivity strategy is Singapore’s Tuas Port Ecosystem. From the first container port in the region in the 1970s, we now can rebuild a brand new Tuas Port, thanks to our farsighted pioneers who saw this opportunity decades ago. 

20. The Tuas Port will go beyond a port. It is an Ecosystem. It will be a technologically advanced hub port capable of handling up to 65 million TEUs through the innovative use of technologies – automation, data analytics, predictive analytics, autonomous vehicles, etc.

21. Tuas Port Ecosystem will also provide an opportunity for all our close partners in the industry, government and overseas partners to participate in creating a more sustainable and innovative future. Let me play you a short video on Tuas Port.


Deepening R&D capabilities in key strategic areas

22. We have charted the direction on R&D together with the Singapore Maritime Institute and our Maritime Centres of Excellence in the Maritime R&D Roadmap 2025. Of particular interest to this forum would be the Centre of Excellence in Maritime Energy and Sustainable Development in the Nanyang Technological University to explore cleaner and alternative energy sources for use in our port and shipping activities.

23. The fundamental question we need to solve is what is the future of shipping. The future of Maritime Singapore is closely linked to the future of marine fuels. There are already exciting forays into methanol, hydrogen, marine batteries.

24. In fact, the Singapore Government will be doing a hydrogen feasibility study in Singapore, which will include considering the feasibility of importing this clean fuel and potential downstream applications – such as hydrogen fuel-cell coastal vessels. Gas and engineering company Linde has also partnered with ExxonMobil to produce and supply hydrogen by 2023 on our very own Jurong Island! What was once unimaginable for our natural resource scarce island is actually becoming a reality. There is also fuel cell, biofuels, etc. We hope to see good progress in these areas moving forward.

Growing maritime start-ups and technology enterprises

25. The next question we need to answer is the capability to innovate and disrupt ourselves. We therefore need additional new talents and entrepreneurs that can show us new ways of doing things. Our initiatives such as the PIER71 and the Smart Port Challenge have given us insights into the power of collaboration and new perspectives.

26. PIER71 (or Port Innovation Ecosystem Reimagined) is a dedicated space for the co-location of technology start-ups. It is a joint effort by MPA and NUS Enterprise to launch PIER71 (the first industry-wide acceleration programme) in 2018.

27. Its flagship programme – the Smart Port Challenge, is now in its third edition and we have received over two hundred start-up proposals globally this year. These start-ups will be mentored by the industry veterans to allow the cross pollination of ideas. Please join us on 7 November to hear the final pitches and be amazed by how technologies can make the impossible possible.

MPA Living Lab

28. Finally, as an ecosystem we need to come together and push the boundaries on the concept of operations for port and shipping. I am heartened that with PSA, Jurong Port and MPA, we have established the Maritime Living Lab. I welcome more collaborations to allow real life experimentations of technologies. Take a look at this video.

29. Collectively, the living labs allow us to perform physical testbed areas at designated anchorages to facilitate the trials of technology development such as drones, autonomous ships, and communication technologies.

30. We can also conduct virtual testbed areas where innovative projects such as remote pilotage, next generation vessel traffic management, and maritime data hubs are housed and experimented.


31. To conclude, it can be “daunting” or “exciting” times of the maritime industry depending on how we want to see it and face it. For Maritime Singapore, we will continue to push ahead. With the initiatives and ambitions I have outlined today, we hope to bring in talented people who will continue to contribute to this very important sector of the world.

32. Maritime Singapore is an ecosystem. Maritime Singapore is after all a partnership:

i. Vital: as it is the backbone for an industry that “moves” the world
ii. Versatile: gateway into the global ecosystem
iii. Resilient: regardless of ups and downs, we have proven we can emerge stronger

33. I wish all a very fruitful session today.