Event Recap: SMF New Year Conversations 2023

Maritime is expected to remain resilient and relevant despite external challenges. Here’s why.

2023 looks to be a tricky year for Singapore’s maritime industry, as rising inflation rates and a looming global recession threaten to disrupt global supply chains.

Still, the consensus gathered from the Singapore Maritime Foundation’s (SMF) New Year Conversations 2023 is that the industry has reasons to be hopeful. In many ways, the industry is ready to set sail and tackle the year’s upcoming challenges.

SMF Chairman Mr Hor Weng Yew (pictured on stage) called for the community to band together in 2023.

There was an atmosphere of cautious optimism as key industry figures discussed the challenges and opportunities ahead. This sentiment was encapsulated in SMF Chairman Mr Hor Weng Yew’s speech, where he rallied the community to “band together” in light of the year’s “ubiquitous change and volatility”.

Why does the industry remain hopeful despite this year’s uncertainty, and what does this mean for the future of maritime?

Maritime: Always navigating challenging times.

If last year’s port statistics are anything to go by, there is good reason to believe that the industry can handle 2023’s economic shocks.

Singapore received 37.3 million twenty-foot equivalent units in 2022, even with the global supply chain disruptions caused by last year’s events. Despite a 3-4% global maritime trade decrease, this was Singapore’s second-highest output ever.

Mr Lars Christian Kastrup, Chief Executive Officer of Pacific International Lines, took this opportunity to remind event attendees of the sector’s historical resiliency.

Singapore’s maritime industry has managed to remain resilient in 2022 (Photo credit: PSA International)

“We (the maritime sector) have always navigated through difficult times, and I’ve heard so many times that it’s going to be volatile,” said Mr Kastrup.

He added: “Yes, it is going to be difficult, but after 42 years of shipping, I’ve seen the shipping industry always invest and go further. I think we’ll continue to do it.”

Maritime Singapore: A one-stop business hub.

Singapore has always prided itself in its capacity as an international maritime centre, and 2023 should be no different.

Singapore’s well-regulated and interconnected maritime ecosystem has made it a conducive place for business. As of 2022, Singapore is home to 170 firms across shipping, law, finance insurance, and cybersecurity. In fact, the total spending by locally-based shipping businesses exceeded S$4.3 billion last year.  

With its vibrant ecosystem of maritime companies, Singapore has managed to maintain its position as an international maritime centre. (Photo Credit: Economic Development Board)

Maritime enterprise leaders like Mr Edward Koo, Chief Operating Officer of TCC Group, believe businesses will continue to benefit from Singapore’s interconnectivity.

Mr Koo said: “Singapore has a vibrant community of charterers and insurers, for example. There’s so much more the industry can do by converting these relationships into long-term partnerships.”

Mr Alex Hartnoll, Head of Business Transformation, X-Press Feeders, also chimed in: “I’ve always been impressed by how well Singapore partnered digital products, services and regulation…those (initiatives) go hand in hand.”

Technology and sustainability continue to rank high on the agenda.

The demand for technological and sustainability solutions remains high in Singapore’s maritime industry.

Singapore’s marine technology ecosystem has been steadily growing. Start-up incubator PIER 71 supports almost 100 companies today, a vast improvement from their 17 companies in 2018.

A steady supply of talent with digital skill sets is needed, which is something that Mr Frederik Guttormsen, Managing Director of Shipping in IMC Industrial Group, has noticed.

Sustainability and Technology solutions remain in demand in Singapore’s maritime industry (Photo Credit: PSA International)

“I saw the other day that the most searched-for position in shipping today is a data analyst,” Mr Guttormsen said. He added: “I think a problem we’ve had in the past was attracting young talent – but I think that is going to solve itself because maritime businesses today are transforming so fast.”

Skilled talent is also needed to help the industry take further steps towards decarbonisation. In 2022, Singapore recorded almost 140,000 tonnes of biofuel blends across 90 biofuel bunkering operations, which far surpassed the use of natural gas bunker sales.

Renewable energy fuel use continues to be a hot industry talking point. At the event, Mr Hartnoll shared how X-Press Feeders invested in methanol-fueled ships to demonstrate the fuel’s demand to suppliers. Mr Koo and Mr Guttormsen also discussed how the industry’s carbon costs could be mitigated to support the industry’s green future.

Technology and sustainability skill sets can even go hand in hand. Find out how data science can be harnessed to reduce maritime carbon emissions here.

An eight-day retreat to Indonesia, fully paid? 

Many industries’ workplaces have evolved to meet new employee needs, and the maritime industry is no different.

“The way of working in the past two to three years has been a wake-up call for many, and we need to change how we manage our seafarers,” Mr Hartnoll said.

Hybrid working, productivity and employee well-being are parts of the employee experience that the maritime industry is actively looking at.

To retain and attract talent, industry leaders expressed the need to adopt hybrid ways of working, prioritise productivity and protect their employee’s well-being.

Bearing testament to the industry’s efforts, Mr Guttormsen shared how IMC Industrial Group sponsored their Singapore staff to attend an eight-day mindfulness programme in Indonesia.

The maritime workplace revolution is still ongoing. Check out this article to learn more about how other maritime companies are transforming their workplace experiences.

Maritime: An industry brimming with opportunities. Join us now!

In 2023, the maritime sector is taking the year’s challenges in its stride. This will bring about new opportunities in this dynamic yet robust industry, making the sector ideal for a promising and purposeful career.

Senior Minister of State for Finance and Transport Mr Chee Hong Tat (in purple tie) speaking with attendees of the New Year Conversations 2023.

To quote Senior Minister of State for Finance and Transport Mr Chee Hong Tat: “The winds and the waves are always on the side of the ablest navigators…With all hands on deck, I am confident we will be able to sail together and reach new frontiers.”

Interested in being part of our essential and readily-evolving maritime workforce? Discover your new maritime career on the MaritimeONE Career Portal now!


Inaugural MSC Maritime Digital Challenge Grand Finals Prize Presentation

Over 129 tertiary students across 35 teams took part in the inaugural MSC Maritime Digital Challenge that seeks to plug Singapore students with a passion for technology into the maritime industry.
Students from the Singapore Management University and Nanyang Polytechnic were announced as winners of the challenges posed by Eastport Maritime, Kanda and Torvald Klaveness at the Prize Presentation held on 13 November 2021.

MSC Maritime Digital Challenge 2021

Three challenge statements, 35 teams, 129 students and 12 finalist teams from 4 universities & 3 polytechnics. Catch behind-the-scene highlights of the MSC Maritime Digital Challenge 2021.

Singapore Maritime Foundation | MSC Maritime Digital Challenge 2021

Catch highlights of the MSC Maritime Digital Challenge 2021. We thank Senior Minister of State, Ministry of Transport Mr. Chee Hong Tat for being our Guest-of-Honour at the event.

SMF New Year Conversations 2022: Year-in-Perspective Video

The past two years of learning to live with Covid-19 has been challenging, but Maritime Singapore has remained resilient. What are the fundamental tenets that attract companies to anchor their business in Singapore and grow their operations here? And what more can be done to leverage on Singapore’s strengths to enhance its attractiveness as a global business hub for maritime companies? How will the Singapore Maritime Foundation organize its work around Connectivity, Innovation and Talent to strengthen the maritime ecosystem? Find out in this Year-in-Perspective video.

SMF New Year Conversations 2022: Opportunities Amid Disruptions

The 2022 SMF New Year Conversations that took place on 13 January 2022 was graced by Guest-of-Honour Mr S Iswaran, Minister for Transport & Minister-in-charge of Trade Relations. Over 250 industry leaders across the breadth of maritime attended physically and virtually.
Singapore was announced to have secured the overall top spot as an international maritime centre for the fifth consecutive time in the DNV-Menon Leading Maritime Cities 2022 report.
Thank you to our industry partners for your strong support.

Mr. Lars Kastrup


Mr. Lars Kastrup is the Chief Executive Officer of Pacific International Lines (Pte) Ltd (PIL).

Prior to joining PIL, Mr. Kastrup was CEO of NOL/APL, and subsequently assumed the role of Executive Vice President, Strategy and M&A at CMA CGM Group. A veteran in the global shipping industry with over 30 years of experience, Mr Kastrup’s other roles include Executive Vice President of Assets at CMA CGM Group heading up CMA Terminals, CMA Ships, Container Logistics as well as regional carriers such as MacAndrews, OPDR and Mercosul; as well as Vice President at AP Moller-Maersk.
Mr. Kastrup complemented his tertiary education with leadership and management training at Penn State University and The Wharton School at the University of Pennsylvania.

Ms. Angeline Teo


Ms. Angeline Teo is the Managing Director and Head of Global Transportation and Offshore, Global Corporate Banking at OCBC Bank which focuses on the maritime, aviation, land & port ecosystems.
Ms. Teo has spent over three decades in maritime finance. Prior to OCBC, Ms. Teo was working at ING Bank, ABN Amro and DnB in Singapore focusing on maritime and offshore.
Ms. Teo graduated from the National University of Singapore with a degree in Business Administration.

Mr. John Martin


Mr. John Martin began his career in London in 1989 with Richards Hogg Lindley Average Adjusters, and qualified as a Fellow of the UK Association of Average Adjusters in 2000.
At RHL he worked in their offices in Australia, Taiwan and Hong Kong. In 2003 he joined Gard Hong Kong, as a claims handler. Mr. Martin also worked in Gard Japan, and in 2014 he moved to Singapore to set up the Gard Singapore office.
Besides running Gard Singapore, Mr. Martin also heads the P&I and H&M claims units and is the Senior Claims Representative for Gard in Asia.

Mr. Cyril Ducau


Mr. Cyril Ducau is the Chief Executive Officer of Eastern Pacific Shipping Pte Ltd, a leading shipping company headquartered in Singapore for the past 30 years.

He is also currently the Chairman of Kenon Holdings Ltd and a member of the board of directors of Gard P&I (Bermuda) Ltd. and of the Global Centre for Maritime Decarbonisation Limited, which was established by the Maritime and Port Authority of Singapore. He was previously Head of Business Development of Quantum Pacific Advisory Limited in London from 2008 to 2012 and acted as Director and Chairman of Pacific Drilling SA between 2011 and 2018.
Prior to joining Quantum Pacific Advisory Limited, Mr. Ducau was Vice President in the Investment Banking Division of Morgan Stanley & Co. International Ltd. in London between 2000 and 2008.
Mr. Ducau graduated from ESCP Europe Business School (Paris, Oxford, Berlin) and holds a Master of Science in business administration and a Diplom Kaufmann.