Speech by MOS Alvin Tan at the ASMI Marine & Offshore Symposium

Speech by MOS Alvin Tan at the ASMI Marine & Offshore Symposium

Mr Simon Kuik, President of the Association of Singapore Marine Industries (ASMI),  

Distinguished guests,

Ladies and gentlemen,


1. A very good morning. Thank you for inviting me to join you today at ASMI’s inaugural Marine & Offshore Symposium. I note that the theme for this inaugural event is “Positioning for Green”, focusing on offshore renewables and decarbonisation. So there is really no better day for us to gather than today, which is also Earth Day! 

2. With the recent easing of COVID-19 restrictions, I am also pleased to see so many industry stakeholders here today, and look forward to our fireside chat later as well.   

A thriving and resilient M&OE sector

3. The marine and offshore engineering (M&OE) sector is a significant contributor to the Singapore economy, with capabilities to meet the global demand for activities from ship repair, shipbuilding, rig-building and offshore engineering, to oilfield equipment manufacturing, and the building and chartering of offshore supply vessels. 

4. Anchored by world-renowned homegrown companies, an ecosystem of globally competitive small and medium enterprises (SMEs) as well as multinational corporations (MNCs), the sector is one we can be proud of, and buttresses Singapore’s role as a leading international maritime centre. 

5. In recent years, the sector has faced some headwinds. It was hit hard by the COVID-19 pandemic, which caused many of our M&OE enterprises to face project delays and cancellations due to border restrictions and curbs on economic activities. There are other structural forces at play too, such as the global energy transition, which has forced the sector to relook its project pipeline and consider its future.

6. But these challenging times once again brought out the cohesion of the sector, as employees and employers worked hand-in-hand around the difficult but necessary worksite adjustments to protect our workers’ health and safety. 

7. The Government also provided assistance in the form of foreign worker levy rebates for the construction, marine shipyard and process (CMP) sectors, and foreign worker levy waivers for all migrant workers during the period of stay-home-notice (SHN) and residential onboarding programme, to help stabilise the industry. These two schemes have been further extended until June 2022 and December 2022, respectively.

8. As a result of a whole-of-ecosystem effort by the industry, unions and the Government coming together, the sector has shown resilient performance even amidst these choppy waters. I am happy to note that the M&OE sector registered an output growth of 0.9 per cent year-on-year in February 2022, supported by a higher level of work done in offshore projects. 

Pivoting to “green” and sustainable energy

9. Given that this is a sector which is intrinsically global in nature, M&OE companies have always been aware of the need to embrace international trends and opportunities. 

a. One such area of opportunity is in sustainability, for example offshore wind, liquefied natural gas (LNG) and marine hybrid technologies. 

b. Of late, the volatility of oil prices and the global pursuit for cleaner energy have accelerated the global energy transition. 

c. The Singapore Maritime Week (SMW) earlier this month also saw a number of agreements supporting maritime decarbonisation.

10. But I am heartened that our M&OE sector has stood ready to take action and address the challenges head-on with an open and innovative mind, including working with Enterprise Singapore to set up pavilions and roundtables at trade events to foster exchanges and spark collaborations. ASMI also led a study mission trip to the Netherlands to seed potential partnerships with European players and gain insights on offshore wind developments to formulate go-to-market strategies. 

11. I am glad that ASMI continues to galvanise all industry stakeholders, despite the pandemic, and today’s inaugural symposium is another important step in the right direction. 

Continuing industry transformation

12. To keep the M&OE sector buoyant, industry transformation efforts must continue in tandem. In this spirit, the Industry Digital Plan (IDP) for our M&OE sector was launched in May last year as a guide to help enterprises assess your digital readiness and assist you in your digitalisation journey, including a Digital Training Roadmap that charts out the skills needed for various job roles. A refreshed Industry Transformation Map (ITM) for the M&OE sector also remains in the pipeline to be launched this year.  

13. Ultimately, industry transformation must reach and benefit workers. Given that the M&OE sector is highly engineering-intensive, companies will continue to focus on building up capabilities over the long haul. 

a. For example, service engineers of the future would require technical know-how on wind turbine testing and marine hybrid systems as companies move into offshore wind projects. Plant managers would also need to innovate and implement energy efficient projects to help lower the carbon footprint of worksites. 

b. Hence, what is more important than just managing the short-term ups and downs, is that we must support our workers and businesses to do well over the long term. 

14. In this regard, the Government remains committed to working with all industry stakeholders to reskill and upskill. In addition to initiatives such as the Marine Career Conversion Programmes (CCPs), career matching services and job fairs, we are happy to explore more ways to help companies in developing and retaining local skilled talent, reducing dependency on foreign manpower, and transitioning to evolving or emerging job functions. 


15. Let me conclude by applauding each and every one of you here today for lending support to an inaugural symposium that reminds us on Earth Day what it means to be a responsible global citizen of the Earth. 

16. I wish you meaningful discussions ahead.  Thank you.

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