Tank Storage Magazine talks to Goh Chung Hun, director of shipping, Maritime and Port Authority of Singapore about the Port of Singapore, its impressive IMO 2020 compliance statistics and its sustainable future.
THE PORT of Singapore is a major global hub port, connected to 600 ports in more than 120 countries. At any one time, there are over 1,000 ships at the port and more than 130,000 ships visit annually. It is also the world’s largest bunkering port by volume, with more than 47 million tonnes of fuel sold in 2019.
On 1 January 2020, new regulations from the International Maritime Organization (IMO) on the amount of sulphur permitted in fuel oil used on board ships came into force. Under the IMO 2020 standard, fuel cannot contain more than 0.50% sulphur. To comply with these new regulations, the Maritime and Port Authority of Singapore (MPA) began to monitor the fuel of ships entering the port. In the first three months of the year, it carried out 326 inspections.
In April, the MPA published its Q1 compliance rates, showing that 96% of inspected ships arriving at the Port of Singapore were using IMO 2020- compliant fuel, excluding those with open-loop scrubbers that switched to using compliant fuel upon arrival. 12 ships were found to have fuel that marginally exceeded the sulphur limit but this was thought to be due to residues. For Singapore registered ships operating globally, there were 31 reports of scrubber malfunction, but this was mainly related to defective system sensors.
The MPA took a strict line with noncompliant ships.
‘For the first quarter of 2020, two foreignregistered ships were found to be using noncompliant fuel. They were each issued a Port State Control detention order and were only allowed to depart from the Port of Singapore after it was verified that they had switched to using compliant fuel,’ says Goh Chung Hun, MPA director of shipping.
In Q2 of 2020, MPA continued its Port State Control (PSC) inspections, carried out on foreign-registered vessels, and Flag State Control (FSC) inspections, for ships registered in Singapore, and found that all ships complied with the IMO 2020 regulations.
PREPARING FOR THE CHANGE
The high compliance rate came as no surprise to Goh. As you might expect, the MPA was well-prepared for the change in regulations.
‘Since 2018, the MPA has been engaging industry stakeholders to prepare for the implementation of the IMO 2020 sulphur regulations. MPA organised numerous seminars and meetings with industry stakeholders to share useful information, obtain feedback and address industry concerns,’ says Goh.
MPA also worked closely with industry associations and stakeholders to develop and publish technical, operations and regulatory guides to help ships and shipping firms to prepare for and comply with IMO 2020, including for scrubbers and bunkering.
‘As the world’s largest bunkering port, MPA ensured the availability of compliant fuel for the IMO 2020 regulations, and reception facilities for scrubber residues from ships installed with closed loop scrubbers, says Goh.
DEALING WITH COVID-19
The impact of COVID-19 has been felt at the Port of Singapore. In January, 12,134 vessels visited the port. In February this had dropped to 10,879, and the number had almost halved by May, dropping to just 6,582 vessels. A lot of this, however, was down to a large drop in passenger vessels. The total number of container ships, freighters, tankers and bulk carriers dropped only a little from 5,883 in January to a low of 5,102 in May, which is reflected in the cargo throughput. Total cargo throughput in the first six months of 2020 stood at 292 million tonnes, compared to 311 million tonnes in the six months preceding that.
‘Since the onset of COVID-19, the Port of Singapore has remained open for cargo operations and marine services. Singapore is committed to keeping our port open to international seaborne trade to enable the delivery of essential goods like food and medicine through shipping and to minimise disruption to the global supply chain,’ says Goh.
The port has of course introduced a number of precautionary measures to protect crews and personnel alike from the spread of COVID-19, such as social distancing and the use of personal protective equipment (PPE) like gloves and masks. MPA implemented temperature screening at sea checkpoints, and has issued health advisories. It has testing and isolation measures in place for ship crew changes, and strict guidelines.
SUSTAINABILITY IS A PRIORITY
Making the Port of Singapore as sustainable as possible is a priority for the MPA. Its new Tuas Next-Generation port will consolidate all of the existing container terminals, with the resulting reduced movements of trucks and ships reducing emissions. The new port will use driverless, battery-powered automated guided vehicles (AGVs) to transport containers and advanced port management systems and technologies to reduce vessels’ stays and therefore emissions. There is also much work in the wider port.
‘Singapore is committed to sustainable international shipping as guided by the targets of the IMO to reduce total annual greenhouse gas emissions from international shipping by at least 50% by 2050,’ says Goh. ‘MPA and its partners will set aside S$40 million [€25 million] under the Maritime GreenFuture Fund to be used for the research, test-bedding, and adoption of low-carbon technologies.’
MPA is also involved in the new International Advisory Panel (IAP) on Maritime Decarbonisation, set up by the Singapore Maritime Foundation. The IAP will support the maritime industry’s decarbonisation efforts, including pathways and policies that could help to accelerate the low carbon transition.
But that is not all.
‘MPA will launch the Maritime Singapore Decarbonisation Blueprint 2050 next year. The blueprint will chart our strategies to achieve a sustainable maritime Singapore and establish Singapore as a responsible hub port and international maritime centre,’ says Goh.
MPA is clearly embracing the possibilities and benefits of a more sustainable future, in far more than just IMO 2020 compliance.