SPEECH BY MR LUI TUCK YEW, MINISTER FOR TRANSPORT AND SECOND MINISTER FOR FOREIGN AFFAIRS, AT THE COMMEMORATION OF TWO BILLION GT IN ANNUAL VESSEL ARRIVAL TONNAGE AT PASIR PANJANG TERMINAL ON TUESDAY, 13 DECEMBER 2011, 4.30 PM
Mr Lucien Wong, Chairman, Maritime and Port Authority of Singapore,
Mr Tan Chong Meng, Group Chief Executive Officer, PSA International
Mr Ng Yat Chung, Group President and Chief Executive Officer, NOL Group
Distinguished friends from the maritime community,
Ladies and gentlemen,
Good afternoon. I am pleased to join you today to celebrate the Port of Singapore's crossing of the two billion gross tons mark in annual vessel arrival tonnage. Today's celebration opens a new chapter in the history of our Port and bears special significance for me. I fondly remember celebrating the crossing of the one billon gross tons mark in 2004, and it gives me great pleasure to join you just seven years later to celebrate the doubling of our port's annual vessel arrival tonnage.
Let me first extend my congratulations to the Master and crew of container ship "MV APL Washington" for helping us to cross the two billion gross tons mark. I would also like to thank the APL Washington's owner, NOL, for its steadfast support of Maritime Singapore through its significant fleet and shipping operations in Singapore. Let me also express my appreciation to PSA for graciously hosting today's event and the instrumental role you have played in enabling our port to attain this record amount of vessel arrival tonnage.
Singapore's Port Achieves Good Growth
The crossing of two billion gross tons in annual vessel arrival tonnage reflects the strong growth achieved by the Port of Singapore, in spite of the current uncertainty in the global economy. For the first 11 months of this year, our port registered 10.2% year-on-year growth in vessel arrival tonnage. This has enabled Singapore to maintain our position as the world's busiest port by vessel arrival tonnage. Over the same period, container throughput has also increased by about 4.8% to 27.3 million TEUs. As the world's top bunkering hub, we have sold 39.3 million tonnes of bunkers up till November this year and are set to surpass last year's record of 40.9 million tonnes in annual bunker sales.
Positioning Singapore's Port for Growth
To sustain our hub port leadership, Singapore will continue to invest to grow capacity with the expansion of Pasir Panjang Terminal. We have also launched a new Port Operations Control Centre at Changi to enhance the safety of navigation as demand on our port and shipping lanes grow. These initiatives will ensure that the Port of Singapore can accommodate not just more ships but also the largest container ships which are coming on stream.
Besides growing capacity, our port must also continue to enhance productivity and meet new demands on safety, security and environmental sustainability. To spur innovation in the container port sector, MPA and the Singapore Maritime Institute will launch the Next Generation Container Port Challenge at the Singapore Maritime Week next April. With a top prize of US$1 million, I hope that this competition can attract the best ideas for achieving a quantum leap in future container port design and technology.
While we continue to develop the Port of Singapore, we must also keep a close watch on the key challenges faced by the maritime industry, especially the current uncertainties in the global economy and shipping markets. These dark clouds are accumulating and will inevitably have a significant impact on Maritime Singapore's growth and prospects for the next few years. Nonetheless, with the strong partnership between the industry and Government, I am confident that we can overcome the challenges ahead together.
In closing, let me once again congratulate PSA, NOL and our partners in the maritime community on this joyous occasion. We look forward to your continued support for the Port of Singapore and the Singapore Maritime Cluster.
On that note, I wish you all an enjoyable evening ahead. Thank you.