Record number of containers handled by Singapore ports last year, number expected to increase
SINGAPORE – A record 37.5 million 20ft equivalent units (TEUs) of containers passed through Singapore’s ports last year, making it the busiest transhipment hub in the world.
Latest figures released by the Maritime and Port Authority of Singapore (MPA) on Thursday (January 13) showed that this translated to some 599 million tonnes of cargo being handled here, as Singapore turned out to be resilient amid Covid-19 and a supply chain crisis that disrupted regular shipping patterns.
At the same time, refueling sales figures also topped 50 million tonnes for only the second time in history, comprising both conventional bunker sales and liquid natural gas bunker sales, which been touted as a more environmentally sustainable alternative.
This allowed it to retain its position as the top bunker port, and sales also exceeded those recorded in 2019 and 2020.
“The Port of Singapore remained open and connected to the world in 2021 despite the ongoing Covid-19 pandemic,” MPA said. “We will continue to diversify our fuel offerings in line with our commitment to maritime decarbonization.”
“It is a strong testament to Singapore’s performance not only in the port sector, but also as an international maritime center in shipping services and maritime technology.”
When Covid-19 hit, the impact on Singapore’s port operations, while not as severe as air travel, still caused a dent in container throughput.
In 2020, ports here handled 0.3 million fewer container TEUs compared to the previous record of 37.2 million TEUs in 2019.
But the country positioned itself as a catch-up port to help other container ships reroute and shorten journeys when the supply chain crisis hit late last year, and the number of containers it handled rebounded strongly.
The container volume of 37.5 million TEUs last year was 0.6 million TEUs higher than in 2020, and well above the 31.6 million TEUs recorded at the start of the decade.
Transport Minister S Iswaran said the results gave him confidence that Singapore’s ports were well placed to recover from Covid-19, and can grow stronger amid tougher port competition of the whole world.
Speaking at the Maritime Foundation of Singapore’s New Year’s Conversations event on Thursday, he said the rise of Asia meant that more resources and goods would flow into Asia to meet growing demand from the middle class.
To capture market share, Singapore must continue to invest in digitalization and attract talent.
He said: “This year, we will gradually roll out new port systems and programs to drive maritime digitalization… attractive – in salaries, benefits and career progression – to attract and prepare talent.”
Dr Yap Wei Yim, Head of the International Trade Management Minor Program at Singapore University of Social Sciences, said Singapore’s container throughput is expected to reach around 40 million container TEUs this year and top the mark. of 50 million TEUs before the end of the decade, barring major setbacks for the global economy.
“Singapore’s performance is in line with the trend seen for many ports around the world,” he said.
“We have seen flight cancellations and city closures during the pandemic. However, the ships continue to sail and the goods continue to move. In many cases, the port and maritime industry has literally become the lifeline of many countries and cities.
He said Singapore is one of the few ports, if not the only port, in the world to have successfully secured joint venture investment from the three container shipping alliances, which together account for more than 80% of global vessel capacity. .
These maritime alliances invest here in berths, which ships under their alliance then have priority to use. Dr Yap estimates that ships from these three alliances contributed about half of Singapore’s container figures last year.
Professor Jasmine Lam, associate professor of sustainable maritime operations at Nanyang Technological University, said Singapore’s performance was closely tied to how it adapted amid the Covid-19 crises and the Supply Chain.
By continuing to be reliable and efficient, Singapore managed to capture traffic from congested neighboring ports in Malaysia, Thailand and Indonesia.
With the increase in global maritime trade as a whole, Singapore’s container throughput figures will only increase.
“Singapore had the fastest turnaround time among all ports in Southeast Asia. With the upcoming opening of Tuas Port, Singapore will also have greater capacity to handle more containers,” a- she declared.
“Burner sales are very closely tied to the number of ships coming into Singapore, as they need to refuel when they are here. Singapore’s productivity and reputation means both numbers will go up.”