MPA: Arctic Shipping Lanes Won't Challenge Singapore's Status as a Global Shipping Hub "Any Time Soon"

by Ship & Bunker News Team
Friday May 29, 2015

Andrew Tan, chief executive of the Maritime and Port Authority of Singapore (MPA), believes Arctic shipping lanes could challenge Singapore's position as a global shipping hub, The Straits Times on Thursday reported.

Tan made the comment during an interview at the International Transport Forum summit in Leipzig, Germany. 

Increased ice melt means a longer navigational window during the summer months, and Arctic lanes such as Russia's Northern Sea Route are said to be faster than the Suez Canal-Malacca Straits link, which Singapore benefits from.

However, Tan said it's unlikely that Arctic routes will supplant the Suez Canal and Malacca Straits anytime soon due to the short cut being less economical for Asia-Europe trade when travelling further down south.

"Parts of the weather are also unpredictable, you'll need Russian ice breakers," he added.

Tan stressed that boosting efficiency and capacity through automation, such as the use of Automated Guided Vehicles to move containers, will help Singapore's port stay competitive and relevant, and he noted that such a system is currently under trial at Pasir Panjang Terminal.

Tan remarked, "Where Singapore is concerned, we are planning for the long term, putting in place the capacity to handle the larger vessels."

In March the MPA announced it will invest another SGD $65 million (US$46.8 million) to develop talent in the maritime sector, in addition to SGD $115 million ($82.8 million) the authority has already spent on the objective.