The Port of Singapore stood resilient in 2020 despite the challenges brought by the COVID-19 pandemic with container throughput remaining "relatively stable" and maintaining its position as the world's top bunkering port.


The world's second-busiest port recorded total container throughput of 36.9 million Twenty-foot Equivalent Units (TEU) for 2020 as the port remained open during the pandemic.


This container throughput marks a slight decrease of 0.9% from the 37.2 million TEUs seen in 2019. The Port of Singapore handled a total of 590.3 million tonnes of cargo in 2020 and the vessel arrival tonnage totalled 2.9 billion Gross Tonnage (GT) in 2020.


“After a steep decline in early-2020 when Covid-19 first struck, international sea trade volumes have shown signs of recovery from the second half of last year. This has helped Maritime Singapore to stay resilient in 2020, even though our economy contracted by 5.8%,” said Chee Hong Tat, Singapore’s Senior Minister of State, Ministry of Transport and Ministry of Foreign Affairs.


Cargo throughput dropped by 5.8% year-on-year mainly due to the decline in oil cargo volumes handled. 


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It added that Singapore remains the world’s top bunkering port with sales amounting to 49.8 million tonnes, an increase of 5% year-on-year.


Meanwhile, Singapore has facilitated crew change under various circumstances for over 80,000 seafarers from 5,800 vessels that called at the port since March 2020 after the crew change issue catapulted into a global crisis during at the height of the coronavirus.


Digitalization, decarbonisation focus


Chee said disruption, digitalisation and decarbonisation will be the focus of the Port moving forward. He noted that Singapore will also ontinue to push ahead in the development of LNG bunkering capabilities, as well as to set up new standards and develop green solutions associated with zero or low carbon fuels to ensure a "greener" future for the maritime industry.


“In the longer term, our target is to equip the port of Singapore to supply a wide range of future, cleaner, fuels types, to meet the diverse needs of ships that choose to call here,” Chee said. “These endeavours will not only help secure Singapore’s lead as a top bunkering hub but also support the vision for a greener and more sustainable maritime ecosystem.”


The Singapore Registry of Ships, which marks its 55th year in 2021, also continued to rank among the top ship registries in the world, reflecting Singapore’s reputation as a quality flag of choice for international ship owners.


The total tonnage of ships under the Singapore flag stood at 95.0 million GT as at end of 2020.


Singapore also welcomed 19 new international shipping groups and maritime companies in 2020, under the Maritime and Port Authority’s (MPA) Maritime Sector Incentive Scheme.


In a related development, Singapore also retained its position as the world's 2nd busiest container port in 2020.