Tuesday, June 22, 2010

Getting closer to the water

JTC is working on innovative ways to create new waterfront resources

SINGAPORE wants to maintain its leadership position on the global marine and offshore landscape. And with this in mind, the city-state is meeting a key challenge - the scarcity of waterfront land - head on.

Industrial landlord JTC has been looking at innovative ways to create new waterfront resources. And through its efforts, the government agency plans to ensure the continued growth of the offshore and marine sector by bringing in new waterfront activities and allowing for expansion by existing players.

Singapore has been a big beneficiary of the strong worldwide high growth of the offshore and marine industry in recent years. An expert cluster of marine-related service companies - including those providing classification services, maritime law and insurance services and offshore support services - has developed here.

In 2008, Singapore's marine and offshore industry output grew to $18.3 billion, which represents a compound annual growth rate of almost 30 per cent over the past five years. This makes the sector one of the fastest growing parts of Singapore's economy in the past few years. The sector's value-added in 2008 was $4.5 billion and the industry employed almost 70,000 workers that year.

Over the past few years, several world class global offshore and marine companies have either set up or expanded their operations in Singapore. They include Rolls-Royce from the UK, Halliburton from the US, Berg Propulsion from Sweden and Toll Offshore Petroleum Services from Australia.

Just a few months ago, Houston-based engineering Dril-Quip said it would develop a new $45.6 million facility at Tuas. this will handle all of the company's manufacturing operations for the Asia-Pacific and Middle East.

To support these and other global companies in their Singapore ventures, Singapore plans to sharpen its competitive advantages to entrench itself as an offshore and marine hub of choice.

JTC chief executive Manohar Khiatani said during the ground-breaking ceremony for the Dril-Quip facility that given the importance of the offshore and marine sector, all relevant government agencies - the Economic Development Board, Spring, the Agency for Science, Technology and Research and JTC - have been working together to grow the industry in Singapore.

This includes continuing to attract expert players to set up here and channelling investments and resources to develop the entire value chain, which ranges from shipyards and component manufacturing to companies offering naval architecture and marine engineering services.

And in addition to all this, JTC is looking to address Singapore's ever-present problem - a shortage of land.

'For its part, JTC has been looking at innovative infrastructural solutions to overcome some key challenges faced by the industry,' Mr Khiatani said. 'One of these is to come up with innovative ways to overcome the scarcity of waterfront land in Singapore.'

The agency is creating resources such as a new offshore marine centre, multi-vessel berthing structures and an integrated shipyard. It is also finding new waterfront land for industrial use.

Offshore marine centre

JTC is developing an offshore marine centre at a 13-hectare site in Tuas View. The multi-user facility will provide common waterfront and berthing facilities for offshore and marine companies involved in the manufacturing and fabrication of heavy equipment, components or structures. This will come in handy, as demand for such facilities is growing, market watchers say.

Multi-vessels berthing structures

JTC is also looking at redesigning Singapore's jetties to allow more vessels to berth along the same waterfront length.

The current system of using tugs for side-berthing will be replaced by a trolley and winch system to berth ships. This means that there will not be a need to provide navigational space for tug-boats, which JTC says can increase berth space along a waterfront by between 25 and 50 per cent.

'The project will increase our potential to attract key investors from the oil and petrochemical industries who require waterfront infrastructure to support their business operations, thus strengthening Singapore's position as a leading oil trading hub,' JTC said.

Integrated yard facility

Singapore's marine and offshore industry took a major step forward with the announcement in late 2009 that Sembcorp Marine will build an integrated yard at Tuas - the country's first new-built yard in a generation.

The first phase of the 206 ha state-of-the-art yard is expected to cost about $750 million and to be completed by 2013.

The yard will boast a revolutionary design as well as the latest production technology and processes. As a result, land use will be optimised and supply-chain efficiency will be improved - achieving a jump in productivity, resource optimisation and operational synergy.

'This first integrated yard is another example of how Singapore plans to stay at the forefront of the marine and offshore industry,' said EDB chairman Leo Yip. 'It will sharpen our competitive edge and reinforce our global leadership position in this industry.'

The increased flexibility that will come from cross-deploying workers and allowing them to multi-task will also improve and upgrade the quality of the work force here, JTC and EDB said.

Development of the 73.3 ha first phase of the yard will start next month and is expected to take four years. The remainder of the site will be developed in two more phases over 12 years.

When completed, the new yard will increase total dock capacity 62 per cent to 3.08 million deadweight tonnes (dwt), from 1.90 million dwt now, and will feature optimised docking and berthing facilities. An improved dock and quay ratio will ensure effective utilisation and faster turnaround for repairs and upgrading of ships, rigs and other floating structures.

The first phase will more than triple the land area from the current 20 ha, almost quadruple drydock capacity to 1.55 million dwt from the current 400,000 dwt and boost quay length almost three-and-a-half times from 1,071 to 3,408 metres.

Integrated facilities and newer technology will make the yard more efficient and productive, which will boost capacity and profitability, according to Sembcorp Marine president and chief executive Wong Weng Sun.

Mr Wong also expects productivity at the new yard to increase at least 15-20 per cent.

Utilising currently non-usable waterfront land

JTC has also earmarked a 40 ha site with around a kilometre of water frontage at Tuas West for future stock. Although the water depth here is only one to 3 metres - making it unsuitable for industrial activity - JTC is looking at the feasibility of improving this.

Looking ahead, land supply will continue to be a challenge to Singapore, JTC says.

And while land scarcity here is not new, the nature of the challenges faced by the agency has changed, which means it will work to come up with new solutions for the growing marine and offshore sector.

Source: Business Times, 22 Jun 2010

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