Wednesday, 11 January 2017

Regional developments that could impact Singapore’s port

China projects in Malaysia to hit Singapore
Goh: Most of the Malaysia-China indirect trade (about RM200bil) that goes through S'pore could return to Malaysia

The giant republic's aggressive investments in ports & rail links in Malaysia under its belt-road regional economic expansion programme is going to change the outlook for the island republic.

China's current mega belt-road projects in Malaysia, once completed, will alter trade routes in the region & this may divert hundreds of billions worth of trade from Singapore, according to industry players.

Cargoes & goods within the region heading for China or vice versa could bypass the Port of Singapore, when China-funded ports & East Coast Rail Line (ECRL) in Peninsular Malaysia are completed within 5 to 10 years

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Malacca port's impact on Singapore 'minimal'

A new international port being built in Malacca will have minimal impact on Singapore as its planned oil storage capacity will be far lower than what is on offer here, Senior Minister of State for Transport Josephine Teo told Parliament yesterday.

She said the Kuala Linggi International Port (Klip) will be able to store 1.5 million cubic metres of oil, while Singapore has a capacity of 20.5 million cubic metres.

Mrs Teo was replying to Mr Saktiandi Supaat (Bishan-Toa Payoh GRC), who asked about Klip's impact on Singapore's status as a regional shipping hub and its economy, and how port services here will stay competitive.

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Still too early to determine impact of Malacca port on Singapore’s economy: Josephine Teo

As the expansion of the Kuala Linggi International Port (KLIP) in Malacca will only be completed within the next decade, it is “still too early” to determine its exact impact on Singapore’s economy, said Senior Minister of State for Transport Josephine Teo on Monday (Jan 9).

Speaking in Parliament in response to a question from Member of Parliament Saktiandi Supaat, she said the Government will closely monitor KLIP and other regional developments, and take further measures as necessary to retain a competitive edge.

The port, built at a cost of RM12.5 billion (S$4 billion), will offer storage, repair and refuelling services. Using 620 acres of reclaimed land, KLIP launched the construction of a port with 1.5 million cubic metres of oil storage capacity and dry docks to handle the biggest of oil tankers, hoping for completion within a decade.

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Malacca port expansion will have ‘minimal impact’ on Singapore's status as regional transhipment hub
Ships travelling through the Singapore Strait. Bloomberg file photo

The expansion of Malacca’s Kuala Linggi International Port (Klip) will likely have a minimal impact on Singapore’s status as a regional transhipment hub, Senior Minister of State (Transport) Josephine Teo said in Parliament yesterday, although she warned against complacency and said the Republic would take the necessary measures to retain its competitive edge.

“The expansion of Malacca’s Klip will reportedly add oil storage and bunkering facilities. The expansion is expected to be completed only within the next decade, so it is still too early to determine the exact impact on Singapore’s economy. Our preliminary assessment, however, is that Klip’s planned oil storage capacity of 1.5 million cubic metres is not big relative to Singapore’s current capacity of 20.5 million cubic metres,” she said.

“In addition, our position as a regional bunkering and oil storage hub is anchored by a strong ecosystem of oil refineries and oil traders, and by the high volume of ships calling at Singapore for various services.

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Malacca harbour plan raises questions about China's strategic aims

A RM43 billion (S$14 billion) harbour being developed in Malacca aims to overtake Singapore as the largest port in the region, but questions are being raised about the need for the added capacity and whether China's eager participation has to do with good business or its crucial strategic interests in the Malacca Strait.

For China, not only does most of its trade pass through the Malacca Strait, but so does up to 80 per cent of its energy needs. This prompted then President Hu Jintao to make the "Malacca Dilemma" a key strategic issue as far back as 2003.

"There is the strategic element of the Malacca Strait. It always starts with an economic presence, which can develop into a naval one, because China will be obliged to ensure the safe passage of its commercial ships," said Dr Johan Saravanamuttu of the S. Rajaratnam School of International Studies, who studies the Malaysia-China relations.

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With US$3b port, Malacca eyes slice of shipping giant Singapore's pie
A container ship enters the Singapore Strait for the Strait of Malacca, as tourists stand at mainland Asia's southernmost point in Johor, Malaysia. (Photo: REUTERS/Henning Gloystein)

Once at the heart of the global spice trade, Malacca is pumping nearly US$3 billion into an ambitious plan to put itself in demand in a different hot commodity - oil.

The Malaysian state is reclaiming land along the Strait of Malacca to build a port that can handle the biggest tankers on the planet. The target: A slice of traffic sailing on to nearby Singapore, the top but congested trading hub in a region with US$600 billion in annual oil trade - a third of global oil demand.

Funded largely by Chinese investors, port operator T.A.G. Marine and developer Linggi Base are building the 12.5 billion ringgit (US$2.82 billion) Kuala Linggi International Port (KLIP) to offer storage, repair and refuelling services. At Singapore, 200km away, ships can spend costly time just waiting to deliver or take on goods, refuel or undergo maintenance work.

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Massive Port City Project In Malaysia No Threat To Singapore, Other Ports: Port Klang Chairman

A massive RM200 billion (US$45 billion) port industrial city planned for Malaysia's Carey Island is a safeguard for the future and "not a threat" to Singapore or any other ports along the Strait of Malacca, said the chairman of Port Klang Authority, the body behind the project.

Kong Cho Ha, the chairman of the authority that oversees Port Klang – Malaysia's largest port and the world's 12th busiest – said the new port will "create the capacity for the next generation".

"Singapore is also building a big terminal at Tuas which is 65 million TEUs (20-foot equivalent units); whereas for Carey Island, we are only talking about developing the port in phases - maybe up to a maximum of 30 million TEUs only," he told Channel NewsAsia.

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Kong: RM200 billion Carey Island port ‘complements not competes’

Port Klang Authority (PKA) is determined to proceed with its RM200 billion port industrial city project in Carey Island, calling it a safeguard for the future, Channel News Asia (CNA) reported today.

PKA chairman Kong Cho Ha said the proposed port complex would not be a threat to Singapore nor would it be in conflict with other major port projects coming up in Malacca.

“This is more complementary rather than competition. Singapore is also building a big terminal at Tuas which is 65 million TEUs (20-foot equivalent units), whereas for Carey Island, we are only talking about developing the port in phases – maybe up to a maximum of 30 million TEUs only,” Kong told the regional news network in an interview that will be aired next Tuesday.

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Port Klang to Compete with Singapore?

The Port Klang Authority (PKA) in Malaysia has revealed that they plan to develop and build a new terminal on the nearby island of Pulau Carey.

The terminal complex is set to cost around USD $44.5 billion and cover and area of 100sq km. The project also envisions a port that will be capable of handling 30 million TEU of container cargo annually.

In an interview with The Star, the Chairman of the PKA, Mr Kong Cho Ha, said: "The whole of Port Klang is very congested now, and the ports are reaching maximum capacity. So we need to build another deep-sea port and develop capacity now to cater for our needs and growth".

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Port Klang plans giant facility to compete with Singapore, but analysts sceptical

Malaysia's Port Klang Authority (PKA) wants to build a giant port on an island next to the country's largest port, clashing with plans for two big ports coming up in nearby Malacca, about a two-hour drive away.

The RM200 billion (S$64 billion) project mooted by the PKA will be built on Pulau Carey, which, at 13,000ha, is about 25 times the size of Singapore's Sentosa Island.

PKA chairman Kong Cho Ha said a new port is necessary to compete in the industry and also to vie for a bigger share of the container cargo trade from Singapore, The Star daily reported yesterday.

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Shenzhen to Port Klang

Officials say the upgrading of Kuantan Port, which will be completed by mid-2018, is only one part of what is shaping up to be Malaysia's most expensive infrastructure undertaking.
The port, which began operations in 1984, is central to the ECRL, which will depend on Chinese train technology and funding.

The proposed 620km electrified railway line will snake its way from Tumpat, located near Malaysia's north-eastern border with Thailand, down the coast to Kuantan Port, before cutting through the mountainous central region to Port Klang, Malaysia's biggest port.

China has also proposed building a new port in Malacca, also on the west coast, but Malaysian government planners say financing for the project has yet to be finalised

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China-Malaysia Plan Third Port Klang Terminal

In a bid to handle the increase in shipping activity in the region, China and Malaysia are currently in talks to build a third terminal at Port Klang, which has also been proposed in response to China’s One Belt, One Road plan, according to Free Malaysia Today.

This follows news that China and Malaysia were to announce a collaboration project with Malaysia for two key ports in both countries.

The initiative is set to open up more business opportunities between both Port Klang and China’s Lianyungang Port.

Port Klang aims for top ten position
China Launch World-First Shipping Route

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Malaysia's East Coast Rail Line touted as a game changer
Land being reclaimed to expand Kuantan Port, which is central to the East Coast Rail Line project.FOTO: KUANTAN PORT

In a remote nook along Peninsular Malaysia's east coast, millions of tonnes of sand are being dredged up from the South China Sea to get Kuantan Port ready for the country's priciest infrastructure project yet: a RM55 billion (S$17.7 billion) railway link financed by China.

The East Coast Rail Line project (ECRL) will connect ports on the east and west coasts of Peninsular Malaysia & could alter regional trade routes which currently ply between the busy Strait of Malacca and the South China Sea via S'pore, officials say.

This potential game changer gives a glimpse of China's ambitions to expand its economic clout in Asia and beyond. And it explains why land is being reclaimed at such a frenzied pace at Kuantan Port.

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Port Klang: Port Commerce

In September 2011, Port Klang conducted a three-day celebration of its 110th anniversary. Since it opened in 1901, Port Klang has been Malaysia's primary port. With links to over 500 ports worldwide, Port Klang is the thirteenth busiest container in the world.

Located near the Klang Valley, Malaysia's most populous region and a busy industrial and commercial center, Port Klang is important to the country's economic well-being. In 1993, the government selected Port Klang to be the National Load Center and a regional hub. Today, Port Klang has world-class facilities and services.

The Port Klang Authority (PKA) was established as a statutory corporation in 1963 to assume management and administration of Port Klang from the Malayan Railway Administration. In 1986, the first facilities were privatized when the container terminal that had been operated by the PKA was taken over by Klang Container Terminal Berhad, although PKA still has a 20% share in the company.

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Mega reclamation project off Johor Raises concerns

MALAYSIAN environmental authorities have approved reclamation works for the Forest City project in Johor, but for a reduced 1,386ha development instead of the initial 1,600ha.

The project had faced resistance from Singapore & Malaysians living near the site, which is close to Tuas, over fears of damage to the ecology of the waterway between the 2 countries.

Country Garden Pacificview (CGPV), the master developer, said in a statement yesterday that the Department of Environment (DoE) granted approval after accepting proposals in a Detailed Environmental Impact Assessment to "minimise or mitigate environmental impacts through integrated and workable solutions".

related: Housing glut worries over Johor's mega projects

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Johor reclamation at Tanjong Piai gets go ahead

More massive reclamation to be expected in West Johor Straits as Tanjong Piai reclamation project gets approval to go ahead. This is in addition to the massive Forest City reclamation already going on there. 
From the Tanjung Piai Integrated Petroleum and Petrochemical Hub website, the plan is to create the following:
  • A 'man-made' island
  • Total size of 3,485 acres
  • Phase 1 : 1,000 acres & Phase 2 : 1,000 acres.
  • Phase 3 & 4 : 1,485 acres
  • Each phase will take about 5 years to complete
  • Expected overall completion - 20 years
It was recently reported that Benalec Holdings Bhd has received the green light from the Department of Environment (DOE) for all three phases of its Tanjung Piai Integrated Petroleum and Petrochemical Hub and Maritime Industrial Park (TPMIP) project in Johor. The company said the DEIA approval encompassed the reclamation construction for all three phases of TPMIP, oil storage terminals and related marine facilities. “The approval also includes infrastructure components on TPMIP such as jetties, a land bridge connecting TPMIP to the mainland of Tanjung Piai, and drainage channel dredging activities in the waters of Tanjung Piai, Johor.”

Reclamation works for Phase 1 began in December last year after the relevant approvals were secured, and there has been formation of land covering more than 100 acres at the project to date.

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Malaysia: Benalec’s entire Tg Piai reclamation project gets DOE approval

Benalec Holdings Bhd has received the green light from the Department of Environment (DOE) for all three phases of its Tanjung Piai Integrated Petroleum and Petrochemical Hub and Maritime Industrial Park (TPMIP) project in Johor.

The marine construction firm said on Thursday that the Detailed Environmental Impact Assessment (DEIA) study submitted by 70% owned subsidiary Spektrum Kukuh and Johor State Secretary Inc for Phases 2 and 3 got the nod on Friday last week.

In a filing with Bursa Malaysia, the company said this was for the balance area of 2,407 acres of the total reclamation area of 3,487 acres. The go-ahead for Phase 1 of the project had been received in January 2015.

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Tanjung Piai Maritime Industrial Park

THE MOST SOUTH-WESTERN TIP OF THE ASIAN CONTINENT - Approximately 3,485 acres of land will be reclaimed off the coast of Tanjung Piai and will form a man-made island to be sited off the south-western coast of Johor, Malaysia. Strategically located at the confluence of the Malacca Straits, Singapore Straits and Johor Straits, Tanjung Piai Maritime Industrial Park is well placed to capture value-added activities from one of the busiest shipping lanes in the world, including the movement of oil tankers equaling over a quarter of the global oil trade. Tanjung Piai Maritime Industrial Park lies at the mouth of the Pulai River just south of Port of Tanjung Pelepas, the second largest container port in Malaysia and the Tanjung Bin Area, site of a 2100 MW coal fired power station.

EXTREME PROXIMITY TO SINGAPORE - The site also lies about 10-15 km away from the Tuas-Jurong Industrial Estate and Jurong Island in Singapore. Additionally, the site is some 12km from the planned new megaport at Tuas being developed in Singapore to handle some 65 million TEUs upon completion of all of its 4 phases. The Tuas and Jurong industrial areas are home to many industrial plants and logistics facilities, including shipbuilding, offshore marine base, machinery manufacturing and the Jurong Port, an important port for handling bulk and general cargo. Jurong Island, being the largest fuel bunkering hub in the maritime industry, is one of the most important refining and petrochemical hubs in the world.

NATURAL DEEP WATER AND VAST SEA FRONTING LAND - Besides its geographical strengths, Tanjung Piai Maritime Industrial Park boasts natural deep water between 24 to 30 meters which borders the site, enabling it to handle Very Large Crude Carriers (VLCC), Ultra Large Crude Carriers (ULCC) and even ValeMax Bulk Carriers with minimal capital and maintenance dredging. Direct access to the deep water of Malacca Straits can be achieved with the construction of a short jetty trestle just approximately 700 meters. The large anchorage areas surrounding the site also have capacity for up to 1,000 vessels. Upon completion of reclamation of this man-made island, the site will create vast land for future expansion and a total of 7-kilometer stretch of valuable seafront land which is able to accommodate up to 41 berths from the range of 2,000 DWT to 350,000 DWT. With Indonesia’s Sumatra Island acting as a natural breakwater to Tanjung Piai Maritime Industrial Park, it is a naturally sheltered harbour free from adverse weather conditions.

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Johor Port: Review and History

Johor Port (also spelled Johore) is in the city of Pasir Gudang in southern Malaysia, separated from Singapore by the 1.2 kilometer wide Johor Strait. An historic trade center for exports of products based on the area’s natural resources, modern Johor Port and Pasir Gudang are home to a busy textile industry and nearby bauxite mines.

Johor Port is so near Singapore that it is basically a suburb. Pasir Gudang is basically Chinese, but the language is the standard Malay dialect. In 2000, over 384 thousand people lived in the city, and more than 630 thousand lived in the metropolitan area.

Johor Port is the first port in Malaysia located in a free trade zone. Its warehouses are exempt from customs duties, and duties are paid only when cargo is released from the port for local consumption. Johor Port Authority built the port in 1977 as a multi-purpose port to handle all kinds of cargo.

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New Silk Road's impact on shipping will be limited
China's ambitious plans to create a modern-day Silk Road by way of building roads and railways abroad are unlikely to change the face of global shipping. This means Spore's position as a key hub port, in turn, will be little affected as well. FOTO: ST FILE

China made further headway in its drive to connect with the rest of the world by high-speed rail when it launched its 1st rail freight service to Britain on Sunday.

China Railway Corporation announced on Monday that the train, carrying clothes, bags & other items, departed from Yiwu in the eastern Zhejiang province, said a Bloomberg report. It will travel more than 12,000km over 18 days - passing through places such as Kazakhstan, Russia and Germany - before arriving in London.

London is the 15th European city to now have direct trains from China as part of President Xi Jinping's "One Belt, One Road" initiative, which is aimed at boosting trade ties with markets across Asia, Africa, the Middle East and Europe.

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Singapore as a 21st century maritime silk road
Map of the One Road-One Belt Initiative (SREB in yellow, MSR in blue, Prepared by the author

In the 14th century, Mongol dominance in Asia resulted in the Pax Mongolica, a framework of peaceful trading relationships straddling the Maritime and Overland Silk Roads, allowing the Kingdom of Singapura to flourish into a wealthy entrepot trading port. Today, the two roads are severed, and trade between Central Asia and Singapore is tiny, much more so for non-oil merchandise. The low volume of trade is evident considering Central Asia’s landlocked position presents a significant barrier of trade to the maritime trading hub that is Singapore.

Today, China’s One Belt-One Road (OBOR) initiative promises to direct international attention to regional infrastructure development, effectively resurrecting a new Pax Sinica. This new economic paradigm could well create exciting new opportunities for Singaporean trade and investment in an untapped region.

This report will focus on Uzbekistan, Kazakhstan and Turkmenistan, and the ways Singapore can capitalize on its unique expertise in the OBOR initiative.

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A Thai Canal to Be Part of China’s Silk Road

It was an idea that first emerged in the 17th century; but it may take 21st century technology to turn it into reality.

The idea is to build a canal across the less-than-30 mile Kra Isthmus in Thailand – connecting the Andaman Sea in the Indian Ocean to the South China Sea.

The logic supporting the Thai Canal, or Kra Canal, is solid – ships would no longer have to go the long way around Singapore, through the pirate-infested chokepoint known as the Strait of Malacca.

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The real threat to S’pore – construction of Thai’s Kra Canal financed by China

On Thursday, the overseas edition of People’s Daily also published an online commentary, saying Singapore “has obviously taken sides over South China Sea issues, while emphasising it does not”. In other words, China is accusing the Singapore government of saying one thing but doing another – a hypocrite.

Online, the Chinese netizens condemned Singapore as a “2-headed snake”. One of them wrote:
(Translation: China should quickly embark on the Kra Canal project and turn Singapore back into a third world country. This is the best present to give to a “2-headed snake”.)
If the Kra Canal truly becomes a reality, ships would certainly consider by-passing the Strait of Malacca and Singapore altogether, making the Singapore’s all-important geographical location redundant. We may truly become a third world country after all.

related: Will our $100 billion Chinese investments go up in smoke?

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Thailand Proposes $20bn Silk-Road-Canal

A new canal situated in Southern Thailand called the Kra Canal could be included as part of China’s Maritime Silk Road plan.

According to World Maritime News, a feasibility study of the new canal has already been conducted and shows that the 26-metre-deep and less-than-100-kilometre-long waterway would cost around US$20bn.

Upon completion, the canal is to offer a route that will allow ships to avoid sailing through the Malacca Strait, a region that is expected to become heavily congested in the next ten years. The canal is also anticipated to save up to 48 hours for shipping companies transiting routes between Asia and Europe.

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Singapore to Deploy Driverless Vehicles at Ports
Container-transport tests could lead to transporting people.

Singapore will test the use of driverless trucks in its ports, with the government saying autonomous-vehicle technology holds transformative potential for the city-state’s transport system.

Permanent Secretary for Transport Pang Kin Keong says the Ministry of Transport will test “truck platooning” technology for moving containers between port terminals. A truck with a driver will be followed by a convoy of three or four driverless vehicles.

He is quoted in a Singapore Economic Development Board report as saying this reduces manpower reliance and increases productivity while benefiting Singapore’s logistics sector, which has been facing a shortage of drivers.

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Singapore to start truck platooning trials: MOT and PSA tie up with Scania and Toyota
Designated Route for the Trials (Pasir Panjang Terminal to Brani Terminal)

The Ministry of Transport (MOT) and PSA Corporation today signed agreements with two automotive companies, Scania and Toyota Tsusho, to design, develop and test-bed an autonomous truck platooning system for use on Singapore’s public roads. With this, Singapore moves another step closer towards autonomous freight transport. These agreements follow from a Request for Proposals (RFP) exercise, suite to a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) inked between MOT and PSA in October 2015 to collaborate and co-fund truck platooning projects.

Truck platooning involves a human-driven lead truck leading a convoy of driverless trucks. In the Singapore trials, the trucks will transport containers from one port terminal to another. Efficient freight movement is critical to the competitiveness of our port. Truck platooning will also alleviate our shortage of manpower, and allow more freight movement to be conducted at night to ease traffic congestion.

Said Mr Pang Kin Keong, Permanent Secretary for Transport and Chairman of the Committee on Autonomous Road Transport in Singapore (CARTS), “Trucking as we know it today is a highly labour-intensive industry. We face a shortage of truck drivers. In this regard, truck platooning technology presents us with an opportunity to boost productivity in both the port sector and the trucking industry. It will also open up opportunities for truck drivers to take on higher-skilled roles as fleet operators and managers.”

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Driverless Vehicles: A peek into the future

10 to 15 years down the road, an Autonomous Vehicle (AV) might take your children to school, before bringing you to work. Rather than being left unused at the carpark, it could then be routed to drop your parents off at the market.

Such an automated system could enable car-sharing in a wider sense, with a potential to reduce passenger vehicles to a third of current numbers, according to a 2011 MIT study in Singapore.

Even freight transport can be transformed. As a major air and shipping hub, Singapore has much to gain from developments in this area. With automated transport, we could be less reliant on manpower, and see improvements in safety and productivity. Optimised routes and schedules will boost performance and help keep our country at the top of the trade.

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PSA in Massive Asian Terminal Project

Global terminl operator PSA International (PSA) has signed a joint-venture agreement with Beibu Gulf Port Group (BPG) and Pacific International Lines (PIL) to operate a new container terminal in Qinzhou City, Guangxi Province, China.

PTI previously reported on an infographic showing the number of terminals currently being operated by each global terminal operator, with PSA being one of the leading port operators.

PSA is currently ranked as the biggest terminal operator in the world.

related: Terminal Operator Alliances

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Port of Singapore: Review and History
Tanjong Pagar Victoria Dock in the 1890s - Victoria Dock at Tanjong Pagar, a naval and commercial base in the British colony of Singapore

The Port of Singapore is located on the southern end of the Malay Peninsula in Southeast Asia about 30 kilometers southwest of the Port of Johor in Malaysia and about 250 nautical miles north-northwest of the Port of Palembang, Indonesia. Containing Singapore Island and about 60 islets, the parliamentary republic of Singapore's constitution establishes a representative democracy with a president and a prime minister. Since 1959, the People's Action Party has dominated the political process. It is the largest of three surviving sovereign city-states in the world, the other two being Monaco and Vatican City.

Most of the residents of the Port of Singapore are of Chinese descent, and the remaining population contains mostly Malays and Indians. The Port of Singapore's official languages are English, Chinese, Malay, and Tamil, and most major religions are practiced in the Port of Singapore (Buddhism, Christianity, Daoism, Hinduism, and Islam). In 2005, almost 4.3 million people called the Port of Singapore home.

Singapore Island is less than 15 meters above sea level, and about two percent of the land is highly productive cropland. Located just 137 kilometers north of the equator, the Port of Singapore is hot and humid. The Port of Singapore has long been an important duty-free trading post for the British Empire, and it is today a major international trade center. It boasts Southeast Asia's most advanced economy, housing major finance and industry sectors.

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The Top 10 Ports for Berth Productivity
The top 10 ports for berth productivity, measured by berth crane moves per hour

Data released by the International Transport Forum (ITF), as part of its ‘Real Impacts of Mega-ships’ report gives a breakdown of the top 10 ports globally with the highest berth productivity, shown in the number of berth crane moves per hour.

PTI recently published an infographic showing how well global ports were performing in terms of berth productivity, while only showing the performance range, not the specific number of hourly container moves.

According to the ITF’s report, the workload for terminals to servicing container ships has risen by 709% since 1975, with the average workload performed by each crane having risen by 382%. However, the number of quay cranes deployed to work a ship has only increased by 87%.

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