Opening Address by Dr Amy Khor, Senior Minister of State, Ministry of Transport and Ministry of Sustainability and the Environment, at the Accelerating Digitalisation & Decarbonisation Conference

16 Apr 2024Speeches

Your Excellencies,

Distinguished guests,

Ladies and Gentlemen,

1.     Good morning. To the many friends of Maritime Singapore who are joining us from all around the world, a very warm welcome.

2.     At the Singapore Maritime Week Opening Ceremony yesterday, Minister Chee spoke about how the twin efforts of digitalisation and decarbonisation cannot be tackled by any company or country alone. Maritime Singapore aims to be a hub for innovation, reliability and resilience, as well as talent development, to support the maritime industry’s efforts in these two areas.

3.     As the pace of transformation picks up, digitalisation and decarbonisation are also becoming increasingly interconnected. This is why, for the first time at Singapore Maritime Week, discussions about digitalisation and innovation are being combined with decarbonisation in a single conference, so that we can explore the synergies between these topics. Let me begin by outlining the progress that has been made on these two fronts, before I share about three ways in which Maritime Singapore will help to accelerate transformation.

Transforming the Maritime Sector through Innovation and Digitalisation

4.     As a leading transhipment hub port and international maritime centre, Singapore has been a fertile ground for government and industry to co-create digital solutions that transform the way we work.

a.     Since its launch in October 2023, MPA’s Just in Time Planning and Coordination Platform, or JIT Platform, has been used by more than 1,000 vessels calling at PSA Terminals and Jurong Port. Users shared that the real time visibility of berthing schedules provided by the JIT Platform has enabled them to optimise vessel arrival times and better coordinate service deliveries to the vessel, thereby reducing wait times in port.

b.     These encouraging early results give us confidence that the JIT platform will help vessels to ensure schedule reliability, save costs, and reduce emissions through decreased idling time. MPA will continue to work with industry stakeholders to further refine and expand JIT, and also cover other vessel segments such as tankers.

5.     At the same time, we are encouraging the development and scaling of ground-up innovation from the industry. MPA and its partners have been actively nurturing MarineTech start-ups through PIER71 since 2018. Many of these start-ups have successfully developed practical solutions tailored to use-cases in the maritime industry, leveraging technologies such as data analytics, internet of things and clean tech.

a.     The next step is to help match the maritime industry, technology companies and venture capitalists with startups and MarineTech solutions based in Singapore. MotionVentures and PIER71, supported by MPA, will be launching the Maritime Singapore Startup Ecosystem Map later today. By showcasing more than 100 active MarineTech startups and their focus areas, this initiative will facilitate opportunities for collaboration and growth in our MarineTech ecosystem.

Progress in Maritime Decarbonisation

6.      As for maritime decarbonisation, it is no longer an option, but an imperative. While achieving the International Maritime Organisation’s target of reaching net zero emissions by or around 2050 will not be easy, this journey is a necessary one.

7.     The momentum of maritime decarbonisation has been picking up across the industry. According to Clarksons Research, of the total orderbook at end-2023, around 50% of tonnage was capable of using alternative fuels or propulsion, up from 34% at the start of 2022. In particular, newbuild orders for methanol dual-fuelled vessels increased from 43 in 2022 to 137 in 2023, and there were also 4 orders for vessels which can run on ammonia last year. 

8.     Beyond the orderbooks, many ports, including Singapore, have begun developing ecosystems to support the bunkering of alternative marine fuels. These efforts are aligned with the growing momentum at the IMO, where comprehensive proposals for facilitating the adoption of alternative marine fuels and for reducing emissions are being discussed in various committees.

9.     However, the waters ahead remain unchartered. Many uncertainties relating to technological capabilities, supply chains, and safety remain. Singapore is playing our part to facilitate the green transition, both for international shipping and in our domestic maritime sector.

10.    Given this momentum, maritime decarbonisation will create opportunities for businesses and workers.

a.     Just last month, I had the pleasure of attending MAN Energy Solutions’ opening of their new mixed-purpose facility in Singapore. Amongst other activities, this new facility will support the repair and maintenance of alternative-fuel engines used onboard ocean-going vessels, and will train seafarers to safely operate and maintain such engines. MAN Energy Solutions currently employs over 250 workers in Singapore, and sees the potential to expand to approximately 400 employees by 2027.

Synergies between Digitalisation and Decarbonisation

11.    Increasingly, digitalisation and decarbonisation are not taking place in separate silos. Instead, they are working in tandem – advancements on one front have the potential to spur developments in the other.

12.    For one, digital solutions can facilitate and accelerate the industry’s decarbonisation efforts through optimising energy consumption, facilitating carbon accounting, or even addressing safety concerns relating to future fuels.

a.     For example, MPA, A*STAR and industry partners have developed a proof-of-concept of a digital twin, which models and visualises the behaviour of plume clouds during a methanol bunkering leak. This enhances our understanding of the safety risks of methanol bunkering, and will help the industry in developing the necessary safety standards and incident response plans, bringing us one step closer to adoption of low- and zero-carbon marine fuels at scale.

13.    Another area in which digitalisation and decarbonisation are linked is talent attraction. All of us here today are keenly aware that it is challenging to hire and retain the right people, be it for seafaring or shore-based roles. Digitalisation and decarbonisation present us with opportunities to refresh the image of our sector, into one that is dynamic, modern, and filled with potential for further transformation. These are important attributes that young talents look out for when choosing a career.

Accelerating Digitalisation and Decarbonisation

14.    It is clear that digitalisation and decarbonisation are amongst the top priorities for leading maritime companies globally. Additionally, considering digitalisation and decarbonisation in combination can spark new ideas, insights and opportunities. These synergies and their positive externalities further strengthen the impetus for action.

15.    Hence, as part of the global maritime community, Maritime Singapore will continue supporting, contributing to, and accelerating maritime digitalisation and decarbonisation. We will do so in three main ways: namely innovation, collaboration, and risk mitigation.

16.    First, we will continue to develop and test-bed novel solutions that address real-world challenges and allow the industry to make tangible progress in transformation efforts.

17.    One specific capability which MPA will be exploring is AI, and how it can be adopted in the maritime industry.

a.     Minister Chee shared yesterday that MPA is developing the Next Generation Vessel Traffic Management System, which will leverage AI to identify traffic hotspots and predict potential collisions. This ensures navigational safety and port efficiency even as our vessel traffic increases in volume and complexity.

b.     MPA is also working with industry leaders such as Amazon Web Services to explore other maritime use cases for AI and generative AI, such as route and fuel optimisation, and carbon emissions accounting.

18.    On decarbonisation, MPA and the Energy Market Authority are currently reviewing proposals to develop an end-to-end solution to provide low- or zero-carbon ammonia for power generation and bunkering.

19.    As for methanol, the recently concluded Expression of Interest for the supply of methanol as a marine fuel in Singapore shows that there is strong industry interest. On aggregate, the submissions have the potential to supply over one million tonnes per annum of low-carbon methanol by 2030, and provide strong indications that the industry is preparing for methanol bunker demand to scale up in the coming years.

20.    MPA will be sharing more details about the EOI findings tomorrow. Insights from the EOI will inform the development of a methanol bunkering regulatory framework. MPA and Enterprise Singapore, through the Singapore Standards Council, are also developing national standards on methanol bunkering, expected to be published in 2025. These frameworks and standards will help to ensure the safe and reliable supply of methanol as a marine fuel in Singapore.

21.    Second, we will continue to facilitate collaborations between like-minded public and private sector partners, to accelerate the development and adoption of solutions. I am heartened that five collaborations will be formalised over the course of this week, with many of them related to digitalisation and decarbonisation efforts.

a.    Amongst other agreements, MPA will be signing a Memorandum of Understanding with S&P Global Market Intelligence and Bunkerchain, to trial and pilot the use of digital ship identity in port clearance and bunkering transactions. If successfully deployed, this can help to make digital transactions in our sector more secure, trusted, and efficient, and be an enabler for further digitalisation of maritime operations.

22.    Third, we will address the concomitant risks that may arise amidst these transformations and transitions.

23.    On the decarbonisation front, this takes the form of actively contributing to developing the necessary regulatory frameworks and standards to ensure a safe and reliable transition to a net-zero future.

a.    Following the Fortescue Green Pioneer’s ammonia fuel trials here in Singapore, we have brought our key learnings to the recent Marine Environment and Protection Committee meeting at the International Maritime Organization, to support ongoing technical and safety discussions relating to the use of ammonia as an alternative marine fuel.

b.    Domestically, the first electric harbour craft charging point pilot trial was launched at Marina South Pier last week. Insights from this and other ongoing pilots will contribute to the development and implementation of a national electric harbour craft charging infrastructure masterplan, as well as technical standards for such charging infrastructure.24.    When it comes to digitalisation, supporting efforts to improve the industry’s cybersecurity capabilities is a priority for us. As ship and shore-based digital systems become more widely adopted and interconnected, the impact of successful cyber attacks will become more disruptive – or even dangerous – if we consider the characteristics of alternative marine fuels such as ammonia.

a.     To improve the sector’ cybersecurity capabilities, the Maritime Cybersecurity Roundtable was set up in 2022, spearheaded by Singapore Shipping Association and supported by MPA and the industry. I am happy to hear that this collaboration has borne fruit.

b.     First, MPA, Singapore Shipping Association, Singapore Institute of Technology and Singapore University of Technology and Design have agreed to collaborate to develop training curricula and standards relating to maritime cybersecurity, to upskill the maritime workforce in this area of growing importance.

c.     Second, at the inaugural EXPO@SMW taking place from today to Thursday, SSA will be launching the MaritimeSG Shipping CyberSafe Scorecard. This free-to-access self-assessment scorecard will allow shipping companies, including small and medium enterprises, to conveniently assess the cybersecurity maturity level of their fleet operations, and identify mitigation measures that should be taken to address key areas of vulnerability. More than 30 shipping companies have already completed their self-assessments as part of a pilot, and I encourage more companies to do the same.


25.    The opportunity to transform an industry does not come by very often. Hence, these are truly exciting times, which we should make the most of, together. I hope that the Singapore Maritime Week will provide an opportunity for all of us to exchange ideas, forge partnerships, and make the most of the strong momentum for transformation which we have been seeing – so that we can deliver tangible outcomes that will make the maritime industry smarter, greener, and better.

26.    This is in line with what Minister Chee said yesterday on productivity. If you remember his jingle, he said “good, better best, never let it rest; make your good better and your better best!”. I would like to share the Singlish version: we should continue to innovate and collaborate to become better, better-er, and better-est!

27.    I wish everyone a fruitful and insightful conference. Thank you.


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