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  Business Times 26 Sep 07
Reaping the gains of going green
AP Moller wins the MPA's 2007 SRS Owner of the Year Award, reports Lynette Khoo

Business Times 24 Sep 07
Maritime Week 2007: Taking the green route
Surendren Apparoo looks at what Singapore is doing to protect the marine environment

SHIPPING is responsible for some 90 per cent of world trade. As shipping activity is poised to grow with the predicted growth of the world economy, there is a need to consider the impact that such an expansion in shipping might have on the environment.

Keeping things in perspective, most of the pollution of the world's oceans come from land-based sources, and shipping is only responsible for a comparatively small percentage.

BG (NS) Tay Lim Heng, chief executive of the Maritime and Port Authority of Singapore (MPA), said: 'I note that low impact does not mean no impact. We should, therefore, continuously seek to mitigate the risk which shipping might pose to the marine environment. In fact, much has already been done by the shipping community to protect the marine environment.'

He added: 'As a major port with a large registry, Singapore is cognisant of its responsibilities and places strong emphasis on the need to protect the marine environment.

'We have thus acceded to conventions aimed at reducing ship-source pollution and providing adequate compensation schemes. In particular, Singapore has acceded to all six annexes of the Marpol Convention, which cover pollutants that range from oil, hazardous and noxious substances to air emission. We would, therefore, encourage states that have not acceded to such agreements to take steps to do so.'

Among the steps taken by the MPA and the other littoral states in the region, namely Malaysia and Indonesia, are regular exercises, such as Chemspill. The Chemical Spill Exercise (codenamed Chemspill) is conducted annually by the MPA to test its Chemical Contingency Plan (Marine).

Chemspill 2007 will focus on the deployment of equipment and personnel from both the landward and seaward sides, and will also involve a tabletop activation of the MPA's Emergency Operations Committee at the Port Operations Control Centre 2.

The exercise will be observed by more than a hundred delegates attending the International Chemical and Oil Pollution Conference and Exhibition, held from today until Wednesday.

Speaking on the rationale of Chemspill, Capt Khong Shen Ping, group director, Hub Port Cluster (Port Division and Shipping Division), said: 'Protecting the marine environment is a shared responsibility. Through these joint exercises, various agencies can test the response capabilities and effectiveness of resources and equipment used to contain the spill. More importantly, these exercises provide a platform for inter-agency cooperation and up the level of readiness.'

There will be 13 different companies and agencies working together in Chemspill, with about 150 personnel involved. One of the major players in Chemspill is OSRL/EARL. The outfit, which holds an impressive track record of oil spill responses, is a non-profit making organisation.

Declan O'Driscoll, regional director of OSRL/EARL, said: 'We believe that effective response depends on trained people working to a well-developed and well-resourced contingency plan that has been regularly exercised. This is preparedness, well understood and mostly practised by industry throughout the world. To build and maintain capacity, we need integration between industry and government.'

On a regional basis, Singapore's green credentials were given a further fillip when the management of the Revolving Fund for the Malacca and Singapore straits was passed from Malaysia to Singapore early last year. The Revolving Fund, whose management passes among Singapore, Malaysia and Indonesia on a five-yearly rotational basis, was set up in 1981, together with the Malacca Strait Council.

Any of the three littoral states is allowed to draw a cash advance from the fund for use in combating oil pollution caused by ships. The amount drawn will be re-paid to the fund when the state recovers the clean-up costs from the parties responsible.

In the 26 years of the fund's existence, it has been used just twice. The first time was in October 1992, when both Indonesia and Malaysia tapped it to combat the oil spill from the Nagasaki Spirit in the northern part of the Malacca Strait. The other time was in October 2000, when the Natuna Sea spilled oil near Tanjung Pinang in Indonesia.

Said Capt Khong: 'The Revolving Fund is a good and unique example of cooperation between the littoral states and the Malacca Straits Council to safeguard the marine environment. It is used to enhance and strengthen the response capabilities of the littoral states through training programmes and exercises. In addition, it serves as a valuable resource for the three littoral states to tap into when responding to an oil spill. All these will allow the littoral states to respond promptly and effectively to an oil spill incident.'

Singapore has, on its own, also embarked against maritime pollution with vigour. In 1971, it enacted the Prevention of Pollution of the Sea Act. This was updated in 1990 when the Republic acceded to the Marpol 73/78 Convention which deals with prevention of pollution of the sea by oil, noxious liquid substances, garbage and sewage from ships.

To reflect the gravity of the damage caused by oil pollution, the Prevention of Pollution of the Sea Act 1990 was amended in 1999 to provide for an increase in fines for discharge of oil from land and ships from $500,000 to $1 million.

In 1999, Singapore acceded to the Oil Pollution Preparedness, Response and Cooperation 1990, commonly known as the OPRC Convention. The convention provides a framework for preparedness and response to oil spill at sea. In October 2003, the country acceded to the International Maritime Organisation's Protocol on Preparedness, Response and Cooperation to Pollution Incidents By Hazardous and Noxious Substances 2003, or the OPRC-HNS Protocol in short.

Singapore has also acceded to the international conventions established for oil pollution claims such as the International Convention on Civil Liability for Oil Pollution Damage 1992 and the International Convention on the Establishment of an International Fund for Compensation for Oil Pollution Damage 1992. They came into force in September and December 1998 respectively. Both schemes increase the amount available for compensation to meet the clean-up costs and oil pollution damage. The maximum claims under the CLC 92 Convention and the Fund Convention are $118 million and $440 million respectively.

The MPA has also strenuously proceeded on a tack of preventive measures to avoid such maritime incidents. These include vessel and ship routing systems, electronic aids to navigation, declarations by chemical tankers, the adoption of International Safety Management codes, the International Convention on Standards of Training, Certification and Watchkeeping for Seafarers and Flag State and Port State Inspections.

All this ties in with the message on World Maritime Day from the secretary-general of the International Maritime Organisation, Efthimios E Mitropoulos, who said: 'The environmental credentials of every country and industry are now under sharper scrutiny than ever before. The pressure is mounting for every potential polluter, every user of energy and every conspicuous contributor to climate change and global warming to clean up their act and adopt greener practices.

'The transport industry is no exception to such scrutiny and pressure; indeed, it seems to attract more than its fair share of attention in this regard; certainly enough to ensure that environmental concerns are now high on the agenda in all of its sectors.'

Business Times 26 Sep 07
Reaping the gains of going green
AP Moller wins the MPA's 2007 SRS Owner of the Year Award, reports Lynette Khoo

YOU may have heard of 'green' cars. But what about 'green' ships?

Well, AP Moller may well have eco-friendly vessels to thank for getting into the good books of judges at this year's Singapore International Maritime Awards.

AP Moller is the recipient of the SRS Owner of the Year Award (Singapore registered ships) from the Maritime and Port Authority of Singapore (MPA) this year.

The green traits of recyclability, responsible waste-handling and energy efficiency are seen in its SRS vessels.

Such vigour in environment protection probably underpins AP Moller's success in winning the award, which recognises shipowners for maintaining high-quality SRS ships.

'Our vessels are designed and built with materials that allow for a high recycling ratio. Ninety eight per cent of a vessel's weight can be reused and this is done according to the highest environmental and safety standards,' AP Moller managing director Gaurav Bansal tells BT.

As vessel operation inevitably generates waste, such as garbage and sewage, a waste management programme has been implemented throughout the Maersk Line fleet to ensure that all types of waste are reduced and handled in a responsible manner, he says.

'The group's PS-class vessels are also equipped with an advanced energy efficiency system, waste heat recovery system, and an electronically controlled engine, all contributing to fewer emissions through reduced fuel consumption of up to 10 per cent,' Mr Bansal adds.

This allows a PS-class vessel, which can carry 11,000 20-foot containers, to sail 66 kilometres using one kWh of energy per tonne of cargo, equivalent to the same amount of energy per ton of cargo used by a jumbo jet flying only half a kilometre.

This is not all there is to AP Moller's green initiatives. To reduce the impact on oceans and lower fuel consumption, the hull of each Maersk Line PS-class vessel is coated with a biocide-free silicone-based anti-fouling paint. The onboard protected fuel tanks are also meant to avoid oil spills.

But having high quality vessels is not enough. Mr Bansal says that highly trained seafarers are needed to operate and maintain these vessels and this is where talent development comes in.

'We have various in-house training programmes that help us in developing the talent pool of seafarers,' Mr Bansal says. 'We place particular emphasis on developing a talent pool of crews for operating the vessels by providing training and supporting the vessels in all possible manner from the organisation ashore.'

The training programmes include specially tailored courses by a group entity, Maersk Training Centre. Here, trainees undergo skill-based training, management education, simulator training, and systems training. The group also conducts extensive training on board its vessels, in the shipyards where its vessels are delivered and in cadet training programmes.

Industry watchers have noted that a major draw for companies to register ships in Singapore is the exemption from income tax of profits derived from the carriage in international waters of passengers, mail, livestock or goods or from towing or salvage operations, as well as the income derived from the charter of these ships.

AP Moller also benefits from a sound maritime infrastructure in Singapore that is supportive of high quality tonnage, Mr Bansal says. The group currently has 50 vessels registered in Singapore with a total tonnage of three million grt (gross register tons).

Mr Bansal notes that the group's strategy has rested upon 'simplicity' and 'standardisation' to provide better product delivery to the group's customers.

Its zeal in maintaining quality fleet has so far been rewarded by healthy container market demand growth, which is expected to remain strong this year and the next, driven by increasing international outsourcing and consumption of goods.

Although Asia-Europe trade is expected to grow much stronger than transpacific trade, Mr Bansal says that the group is currently happy with the number of its SRS ships and 'for historical and business reasons', will also register vessels in other 'good qualifying countries such as Denmark and the UK'.

Despite higher fuel costs, AP Moller is still confident of rising freight rates this year, which is expected to be 4 per cent more than the level for last year.

Meanwhile, the group is still exploring more efficient ways to conduct its business, Mr Bansal says. For instance, it has developed more energy-saving solutions to mitigate fuel costs and is optimising in-land operations to create more efficient end-to-end transportation.

'The environment is an important element of our business,' Mr Bansal adds. This, he notes, remains one of the key driving forces behind AP Moller's continuous improvement to move cargo in a more fuel-efficient manner, be it by sea or over land.

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