SINGAPORE - The maritime industry can be cautiously optimistic about this year's outlook with lower fuel costs as ports here hit another high in handling containers.
Advance estimates disclosed by Transport Minister Lui Tuck Yew at an industry event on Friday event showed Singapore's container throughput last year reached 33.9 million twenty-foot equivalent units (TEUs), 4 per cent higher than the previous year.
A total of 32.6 million TEUs were reached in 2013, which was itself a record.
Vessel arrival tonnage also rose 1.9 per cent to 2.37 billion gross tons (GT).
Singapore also kept its pole position as the world's top bunkering port with 42.4 million tonnes sold last year.
While the container throughput was a record, it fell short of the 35.3 million TEUs handled by Shanghai's port, which announced its volume earlier this week.
That meant Shanghai's ports were again the world's busiest, after it wrested the title from Singapore in 2010 and never relinquished it.
Nevertheless, Mr Lui said Singapore continues to attract a broad range of maritime enterprises, with new shipping companies and maritime service providers coming on board.
These include shipowner-operator Bumi Armada and International Group Protection & Indemnity.
"Looking ahead, there is room for cautious optimism in 2015," said Mr Lui.
"Lower oil prices will provide some cost relief to ship owners and operators. Economic growth is expected to pick up, and Asia and Australasia will remain the world's fastest growing region."
He was speaking at the Singapore Maritime Foundation's 2015 New Year cocktail reception at Conrad Centennial Singapore Hotel.