Speech at Naming Ceremony of Seafox 5, Keppel FELS
Mr Tan Chuan-Jin, Acting Minister for Manpower and Senior Minister of State for National Development, 50 Gul Road
Lady Sponsor, Mrs Marlies Cordia
Mr Choo Chiau Beng, CEO, Keppel Corporation & Chairman of Keppel Offshore & Marine
Mr Tong Chong Heong, CEO of Keppel Offshore & Marine
Mr Keesjan Cordia, CEO of Seafox
Mr Dirk vd Lelij, Chairman, Board of Seafox
Mr Jan Willem Baud, Director of NPM Capital
Ladies and gentlemen,
- Good morning. I am very happy to join you here today at the naming ceremony of Seafox 5. Although I wasn’t quite aware of it at first, this is clearly a significant milestone for everyone here, as well as the local marine and offshore industry as Seafox 5 is the first offshore wind turbine installer1 built in Singapore. This is quite an outstanding achievement, and possibly the first of many for the people involved in this project.
- As we look around the world today, despite the difficulties in Europe, the marine and offshore industry remains strong because of increasing global energy demand, particularly from growing economies such as China.
- How has this impacted the economy in Singapore? Well, Singapore has benefited from this rising tide. Having grown from a ship repair hub in the 1960s, we have grown into a leading global marine and offshore hub with a thriving ecosystem. Having projects such as the Seafox 5 and being able to deliver them ahead of the timeline has enhanced Singapore’s attractiveness to businesses. In 2011, the sector contributed over $16 billion to the economy. Furthermore, the number of locals working in the sector grew to 18,000 in Dec 2011, an increase of about 30% from Dec 2001. Now nearly three in 10 locals in the sector are in PME jobs, up from less than two in 10 a decade ago.
- The marine and offshore industry has also been cooperating with industry associations and institutions to encourage Singaporeans to join the sector. The Association of Singapore Marine Industries (ASMI), together with member companies, provides scholarships such as the ASMI-Marine Technology Scholarship to enable passionate students to enroll in related honours degree programmes offered by the Newcastle University (UK) and Singapore Institute of Technology (SIT). Furthermore, in 2008, Keppel Offshore & Marine together with the Institute for Technical Education (ITE) jointly set up the Marine Offshore Technology Workshop at the ITE College central, allowing both staff and students to enhance their capability in Marine Offshore Technology through industry attachments, training courses and joint-projects.
- Today, as we come together to recognise Keppel’s impressive achievement, I would like to touch on two areas which Keppel has done well in and which are relevant as the marine and offshore industry and other sectors in Singapore strive for productivity-led sustainable growth.
Innovation and technological advances
- A key source of productivity improvements is innovation and technological advances. The government has invested strategically to build up research and development (R&D) capabilities in the sector. The Singapore Maritime Institute, jointly set up by EDB, A*STAR and Maritime and Port Authority of Singapore, drives research in areas such as green shipping, offshore and subsea systems, and oilfield and down-hole systems. In addition, as announced during Budget 2012, the National Research Foundation is channelling S$150million to EDB and A*STAR to build up R&D capabilities for deepwater oil production. These R&D initiatives will lead to the build-up and retention of specialized knowledge, helping Singapore move up the manufacturing and technology value-chain. In particular, for the shipyards, these initiatives will enable them to undertake more design activities and move into higher value-added segments of the industry.
- I was happy to learn that Keppel has been championing and nurturing innovation and R&D in their own operations to drive technological advances. It is good to know that, for example, each yard under Keppel has its own innovation quality circles where teams share their ideas for reducing construction time and costs and improving safety and quality. Seafox 5, which was built to a proprietary design developed by Keppel Corporation’s own in-house R&D arm, is a good example of what can be achieved by this strong emphasis on local innovation and R&D.
- The company has set also up a productivity improvement taskforce to look into ways to improve operational efficiencies and skills training. Keppel’s R&D centres, in collaboration with the tertiary institutions, have also attracted top researchers to Singapore and nurtured a crop of talented young scientists in the marine and offshore sector. These initiatives have resulted in improvements such as the use of new manufacturing concepts and detailed production planning in the construction of jack-up drilling rigs, allowing greater flexibility and ability to customize to order.
- To sum up, the government has been investing in the creation of higher value-added segments of the industry through R&D. At the same time, companies such as Keppel are working with institutions to nurture local talent. To put these developments in perspective, in the future, not only would talented Singaporeans have more opportunities to better equip themselves with practical skills that are much valued in the industry, there would also be a larger pool of quality jobs open to them.
- When I was drafting this speech, I asked Keppel to tell me more about the workers who have been nurtured in this way. One such worker is Ms Adeline Seah, Keppel’s Project Manager for Seafox 5. Ms Seah is the first female Project Manager in Keppel FELS. She joined Keppel’s Engineering Department in 2004, a fresh graduate in a conventionally male-dominated field. Through her own hard work, the training opportunities sponsored by Keppel and the company’s own progress in the industry, Adeline worked her way up to her current position as the first female Project Manager working on the world’s largest wind turbine installation vessel, a laudable breakthrough on both fronts for Keppel. And on top of that, she is also a mother of two.
Workplace safety and health
- Another key source of productivity improvements is a sharp focus on workplace safety and health. There are very few occasions where people start off with safety instruction. However in Keppel, board meeting start off with safety instruction. Safety isn’t just about increasing productivity, it is about looking after your employees and ensuring that everyone makes it back home each day. Over the years, the marine and offshore industry has made sustained efforts improve overall safety standards. While there have been improvements compared to 10 years ago, there is nevertheless still a need for vigilance and to strive for zero incidents, so that the industry as a whole can sustain consistent safety performance.
- I am therefore pleased to note Keppel’s strong support for workplace safety and health. In 2010, Keppel became the first company to launch a corporate initiative aligned to the National Workplace Safety and Health 2018 strategy, committing to make workplace safety and health an integral part of its business. Keppel is also a signatory of the “Pledge-for-Zero CEO Commitment Charter” launched by the Workplace Safety and Health Council to establish a zero injury workplace.
- At the end of the day, let’s put aside the argument that zero accidents means higher productivity because of zero man-hours lost or zero down-time. And remember that, ultimately, zero accidents means zero lives lost. That is the real goal and the right goal for all the employers in Singapore. We are talking about workers’ lives, and one life lost is one too many. The recent spate of workplace accidents has shown us that complacency is not an option.
- In conclusion, I would like to congratulate Keppel on its safe and successful delivery of Seafox 5. This is a concrete example of the company’s continued emphasis on innovation and R&D, as well as workplace safety and health.
1 The Seafox 5 will be used for installing offshore wind foundations in the 288 megawatt (MW) DanTysk windfarm, developed by Europe’s leading energy company Vattenfall and Stadtwerke München, in the German sector of the North Sea. It can also support a wide range of related activities such as accommodation, well intervention, maintenance, construction and decommissioning.