Warmer Arctic presents new economic possibilities

It is time to pay more attention to the Arctic, as most of the major powers make a big play for its resources and development.

The last of the true frontiers is opening up, and it poses even more challenges and opportunities for those who dare, Singapore included.

The Trump administration has approved an oil company's request for Arctic Ocean oil exploration.

The United States' Bureau of Safety and Environmental Enforcement has recently granted a permit for Italian oil giant Eni SpA to drill an exploratory well in the Beaufort Sea to test production conditions there.

This is where Singapore has an opportunity to revive its own fortunes, especially when it comes to companies in the oil and gas sector that specialise in offshore or marine services.

For instance, oil rig and shipbuilding company Keppel has completed a number of ice-class vessels, including the first icebreakers built in Asia, and is now working with oil majors and drilling contractors to develop the world's first Arctic-grade, environmentally friendly "green" rig.

As the Arctic becomes increasingly affected by climate change and global warming, Singapore can become more involved in the development of maritime infrastructure to facilitate safe shipping as new sea routes materialise.

A warmer Arctic no doubt presents new economic possibilities.

After all, Singapore's marine industry has built up strong credentials in shipbuilding and repair, offshore engineering, port operation and support services, which can be applied in the Arctic.

Manoraj Rajathurai

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on December 04, 2017, with the headline 'Warmer Arctic presents new economic possibilities'. Print Edition | Subscribe