Learning from the latest oil spill incident, government agencies will continue to update and improve their standard operating procedures (SOPs), Mr Chee said.

Agencies will continue to prepare their teams to deal with oil spills effectively through training and regular inter-agency exercises, he added.

“While we do our best to reduce the risks, oil spills may still happen in our waters or in the region,” Mr Chee noted.

“It is not possible to completely eliminate this risk.

“Therefore, we have prepared for and maintained our readiness to respond in a prompt, coordinated and effective manner when such incidents occur.”

Mr Chee added that the government has worked with industry partners to develop a contingency plan, which is rehearsed and refined every two years during inter-agency exercises for oil spills.

“Our SOPs were enhanced along the way, and they helped us respond to this incident effectively,” he said. 

“We will continue to update and improve our SOPs and contingency plans with learning points from this incident, and prepare our teams to deal with oil spills effectively through training and regular inter-agency exercises.” 

In addition, steps have also been taken over the years to enhance the safety of vessels and bunkering operations, to minimise the risk of accidents and oil spills. 

“We have also put in place practices such as mandatory safety training and shipboard drills for vessel crew on incident response, as well as inspections for vessels in our port to ensure compliance with international safety conventions,” the Transport Minister said.

In response to a supplementary question by MP Liang Eng Hwa (PAP-Bukit Panjang) on whether there would be higher shipping costs in the wake of the oil spill incident, Mr Chee said this is not likely.

“I do not think this incident will lead to an increase in shipping costs because it is affecting two vessels in this case, and not something that is structural or systemic,” he explained.

“MPA very quickly ensured that port and shipping operations were not affected on Jun 14 soon after the allision occurred, so that ships can still come into our anchorages, call at our ports, cargo could still be loaded and unloaded … port operations continued.”

This is unlike what is happening at the Red Sea, where there is a shipping crisis due to the potential of attacks by Yemen-based Houthis.

“That kind of incident … that will affect global shipping costs because ships have to then detour and go a longer distance,” he said.

Mr Chee added that Singapore’s reputation as a maritime hub was also not impacted.

“Precisely because our response to the oil spill was swift and effective, I think it didn’t damage our reputation as an international hub port and maritime centre, he said.”


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