THE Maritime and Port Authority of Singapore (MPA) and the Port of Rotterdam have signed a memorandum of understanding to establish what they say is the world’s longest “green and digital corridor”.

They said the initiative was to enable low and zero-carbon shipping.

MPA CEO Quah Ley Hoon and Port of Rotterdam CEO Allard Castelein signed the MoU on the sidelines of the biennia World Cities Summit.

The agreement is to bring together stakeholders across the supply chain to realise the first sustainable vessels sailing on the route by 2027.

A statement from MPA said Singapore and Rotterdam are two of the largest bunkering ports in the world. As such, they are vital points on the Asia-Europe shipping lanes.

International shipping uses mostly marine gas oil and low-sulphur fuel oil. However, more environmentally sustainable alternatives such as biofuel are becoming available. Other alternatives such as synthetic methane and hydrogen are in various stages of development.

Each alternative fuel has its own challenges. To tackle these issues, the two port authorities, under the MoU, agreed to bring together a broad coalition of shippers, fuel suppliers and other companies to collectively work on potential solutions.

Beyond alternative fuels, the MoU also aims to optimise maritime efficiency, safety, and the transparent flow of goods. It will do so by creating a digital trade lane where relevant data, electronic documentation and standards are shared. The port authorities said this would facilitate the seamless movement of vessels and cargo and optimise just-in-time arrival of vessels from port to port. 

The port authorities are to work with the Global Centre for Maritime Decarbonisation and the Mærsk Mc-Kinney Møller Center for Zero-Carbon Shipping as action partners. The will also work with other industry partners across the supply chain, including BP, CMA CGM, Digital Container Shipping Association, Maersk, MSC, Ocean Network Express, PSA International, and Shell for a start.

This will enable the green and digital corridor project to raise investment confidence, attract green financing, and kickstart joint bunkering pilots and trials for digitalisation and the use of low- and zero carbon fuels along the route.

Singapore minister for transport S Iswaran said: “Decarbonising shipping is an urgent climate action priority, which requires the collective efforts of the entire maritime sector.  As a trusted global maritime hub, Singapore contributes actively to IMO’s efforts to make international shipping more sustainable, and global supply chains more resilient. This MoU with the Port of Rotterdam demonstrates how likeminded partners can work together to complement the efforts of the IMO. It will serve as a valuable platform to pilot ideas that can be scaled up for more sustainable international shipping.”

Port of Rotterdam’s Mr Castelein said: “Shipping is among the most important industries to decarbonise, owing to its large international reach and volume, which continues to grow. By bringing together parties across the supply chain along one of the world’s biggest trade lanes, we can enable carriers to switch to zero-carbon fuels and speed up the transition to more sustainable shipping”.

MPA’s Ms Quah Ley Hoon said: “This MoU further strengthens the strong partnership between Singapore and Rotterdam.  It reaffirms Singapore’s commitment towards facilitating a multi-fuel bunkering transition as part of the Maritime Singapore Decarbonisation Blueprint 2050, and accelerates our digitalisation efforts to optimise maritime efficiency and improve supply chain resilience. The pilot will complement efforts undertaken by the shipping industry, including partners such as Google Cloud, and the IMO to support decarbonisation and digitalisation transition for international shipping, as we work towards developing and scaling up green and digital solutions for wider adoption.”