Singapore remains the largest bunker port and handles a record 37.5 million TEUs
Singapore remained the world’s busiest transshipment and bunkering port in 2021 despite the continued impact of the pandemic. Port officials highlight a new record for the total number of containers passing through the port as well as strength in most areas of the operation as they seek to increase digitalization to maintain leadership, particularly in bunkering operations.
The Maritime and Ports Authority reports that Singapore closed 2021 with record container throughput of 37.5 million TEUs. While Shanghai remains the busiest container port in the world, handling in 2020 for example 43.5 million TEUs, Singapore leads in transhipments. Volume grew nearly 2% in 2021, marking the second time Singapore had more than 37 million boxes. Port officials said Singapore was well placed to help container ships reroute and shorten journeys during the supply chain crisis while keeping the port open to crew changes, helping it to recover from the effects of the pandemic.
Although below peak levels seen in 2018, cargo tonnage has also rebounded significantly in 2021. Singapore said it handled 599 million tonnes last year, compared to just under 591 million tonnes in 2020, but below 630 million tonnes in 2018.
“Maritime Singapore has proven resilient despite the challenges of the pandemic over the past two years,” said Minister of Transport and Minister Responsible for Trade Relations, MS Iswaran. “I am confident that the strong and continued tripartite partnership between government, industry and trade unions will see us through the recovery phase and enable Maritime Singapore to emerge even stronger.”
The pandemic however may also have contributed to a decline in the total number of ship calls to Singapore in 2021 based on gross tonnage. Arrivals based on tonnage decreased by 3%. The MPA saw a similar decline in the total tonnage of Singapore-registered vessels in 2021, while it remains one of the largest registries in the world.
Singapore also retained its position as the top bunker port, recording a total sales volume of 50.04 million tonnes in 2021, only the second time that bunker sales exceeded the 50 million tonne mark. . Port officials highlighted the diversification of the port’s bunkering activity with regular ship-to-ship LNG bunkering operations beginning in March 2021. Sales for the year included 49.99 million tonnes of conventional bunkers and 0.05 million tonnes of LNG.
Outlining a strategy that includes focusing on digitalization and decarbonization, the transport minister said Singapore is evolving to continue to meet the needs of the shipping industry. He announced to support the future development of the port and its operations that the Maritime and Port Authority of Singapore is providing nearly S$3 million (US$2.2 million) in funding to eight projects involving 35 companies working together to accelerate the development of digital products. and solutions for the refueling industry.
While many ports in Asia and around the world are reporting growing congestion, Singapore pointed out that its operations have the fastest turnaround times among any port in Southeast Asia. Additionally, with the opening of the new port of Tuas, Singapore will also have greater capacity to transship more containers, supporting future growth in shipping business.