Opening Speech by Senior Minister of State for Transport, Mr Chee Hong Tat at the Singapore-Norway Innovation Conference 2022

18 Nov 2022Speeches

Ladies and Gentlemen,

Good morning.

1.     Thank you for inviting me to speak at the opening of the Singapore-Norway Innovation Conference 2022. I spoke at this Conference last year, and since then, I am glad that travel restrictions have eased and I was able to visit Norway earlier this year, to meet my counterparts and various Norwegian maritime companies. 

2.     During the visit, we reaffirmed the strong maritime cooperation between both countries; and I shared Singapore’s commitment to learn from and work with the Norwegian government and businesses to advance decarbonisation and digitalisation initiatives.

3.     Earlier, Ambassador Eivind Homme mentioned that Singapore and Norway enjoy broad-based, deep and strong collaborations across different sectors, such as science and maritime innovation, just to name a few. This is a track record that has been built up over the years, based on win-win, mutually beneficial outcomes. 

4.     If we go one step deeper and ask, why is it that Singapore and Norway have been such great partners, it points back to the shared values that we have. Our belief that we will not succumb to challenges and obstacles, that we will confront difficulties and find ways to innovate and overcome – that has been the Norwegian story, and that has been the Singapore story. 

5.     It also reflects our shared values in ensuring that growth is inclusive, and that when we grow, we want to make sure that different segments of our society can benefit from it. So we uplift not just a small segment, but a broad spectrum of our society. Importantly, and this is where it links to the topic of decarbonisation, our shared belief in not just planning for this current generation, but thinking about we want to leave behind for future generations, this common set of values allows us to build our collaborations on a strong foundation of trust and understanding.  

Innovation is critical to the success of the global energy transition

6.     Decarbonisation is top of mind in many countries including Norway and Singapore. In Singapore, we have raised our ambitions to reduce our carbon emissions. In October this year, we announced that we will aim to achieve net zero emissions by 2050. 

7.     At the heart of decarbonisation is a global energy transition, and innovation is key. We need to explore and scale up the safe use of low and zero carbon fuels. These alternative energy sources have the greatest potential to help us reduce carbon emissions. Technical measures, such as wind assisted propulsion, and main engine tuning and derating, are important as well. These measures can help by reducing vessels’ fuel consumption and improving energy efficiency. There are also steps we can take, such as better planning of ship journeys and data sharing, to reduce waiting times of vessels. These are no-regret moves that will not only be good for businesses, and also good for the environment. 

8.     Maritime Singapore is supporting and spearheading various initiatives to enable innovation. This provides many opportunities for Singapore and Norway to collaborate, develop and implement practical solutions, to help the maritime industry navigate the energy transition.

9.     Let me share some examples.

Innovation in the area of alternative fuels

10.    At the Singapore Maritime Institute Forum last month, I announced that the Singapore Maritime Institute will award $12 million in funding to the Maritime Energy and Sustainable Development Centre of Excellence, or MESD for short, at the Nanyang Technological University.

11.    The funding will support MESD’s trials involving alternative fuels such as ammonia, biofuels, hydrogen and electrification, and adoption pathways. I would like to encourage companies to partner MESD to undertake applied research studies and projects in maritime decarbonisation.

12.    Public-private collaboration is essential to accelerate the deployment of solutions across the entire value chain to meet our sustainability targets. Therefore, the Maritime and Port Authority of Singapore (MPA) has been working closely with the industry, including our industry partners from Norway. 

13.    For example, MPA and Yara Clean Ammonia are part of the Castor Initiative led by MISC Berhad, which aims to develop two ammonia-fueled tankers by 2026. The Global Centre for Maritime Decarbonisation (GCMD) was also formed on 1 August 2021 with funding from MPA as well as six founding partners, including DNV Foundation, to support decarbonisation of the maritime industry.

14.    Last year, GCMD initiated the ammonia bunkering safety study which is being carried out by DNV and its consortium partners; and in August 2022, GCMD launched a pilot project to develop a supply chain integrity assurance framework for drop-in green fuels starting with biofuels with 18 industry partners.

15.    These green fuels must be used on actual shipping journeys between ports to validate their performance, establish safety standards and regulations, and ensure that key bunkering infrastructure are tested and ready. 

16.    In August this year, MPA and the Port of Rotterdam launched the world’s longest green and digital shipping corridor. More recently, MPA began discussions with the Port of Los Angeles and the Port of Long Beach to establish a green and digital shipping corridor between the three ports. 

17.    We are also exploring similar collaborations with other ports around the world. Through these corridors, we aim to accelerate the decarbonisation of global supply chains, and complement efforts undertaken by the industry and the International Maritime Organization to drive the green and digital transition for international shipping. This cannot be done by any single company, or country, or port alone. We need to work together and bank on the network effect. 

Innovation in digitalisation and technology

18.    Besides exploring alternative fuels, MPA will also develop and support digital tools and technologies that optimise the efficiency of ship operations, thereby lowering carbon emissions. 

19.    An example is MPA’s Just-In-Time platform which was operationalised for container vessels just this year. The platform facilitates optimal arrival and departure of vessels to and from the Port of Singapore. 

20.    This shortens vessel dwell time at anchorages and port stays, and facilitates efficient voyage planning to reduce greenhouse gas emissions. We want to expand this platform, and use it not just for containerships, but also to cover tankers and bulk carriers.

21.    MPA also launched the Maritime Drone Estate (MDE) in 2021 to provide a regulatory sandbox and a conducive space for companies to develop and test-bed their drone technologies for maritime use cases. The use of drones for shore-to-ship deliveries saves time and reduces carbon emissions.

22.    Industry efforts such as the partnership between Skyports, Wilhelmsen Ships Agency and Thome Group will tap on the MDE to develop and trial the proof-of-concept operations for shore-to-ship deliveries. I welcome more companies to leverage the MDE, you can use it to conduct pilots, to pave the way for the operationalisation of maritime drone delivery services. 

23.    MPA is also pushing for common data standards to facilitate the exchange of information between ports. This will enable the adoption of digital solutions across global supply chains, and lead to more efficient port services.

24.    We are doing this through digitalOCEANSTM together with seven industry partners. The goal is to harmonise Application Programming Interface (API) and data standards based on the International Maritime Organization standards, to facilitate ship-port data exchange and information flow for efficient port clearance.  

Renewal of Memorandum of Understanding between MPA and DNV  

25.    I am pleased to announce that MPA and DNV will be renewing their Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) for another three years today. The MoU was first signed in 2014. 

26.    The renewed MoU will be expanded beyond its present scope of R&D in decarbonisation and digitalisation, to cover talent development. It is important that as we pursue decarbonisation and digitalisation, we build up a pipeline of local and international talent with the required skillsets and expertise.  

27.    Through the MoU, MPA and DNV will work together on various projects including charting the strategy for green and digital deep-sea shipping, harmonising ship notations, developing enablers for the use of remote survey and inspection services, researcher exchange programmes and industry-wide manpower development programmes.

28.    Another part of our shared values is the belief in the importance of maximising human potential. Both Norway and Singapore do not have large populations, but we believe in the value of education and lifelong learning, to maximise the potential of our people.

29.    I wish MPA and DNV another fruitful and successful term of collaboration, and would like to conclude by wishing everyone a fruitful conference ahead. Thank you.


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