In Singapore’s World-class Port, a Model of Efficiency and Transparency

The quality, efficiency and reliability of Singapore’s port and shipping services have made it the preferred marine gateway to Asia. With an average of 140,000 vessels entering the facility each year, it is the largest bunkering port in the world.

Within, Singapore implements stringent refueling criteria to ensure that the strictest standards are followed. In line with this, the family-owned company Equatorial Marine has provided bunkering services to the shipping community since 1992 based on two main principles: transparency and efficiency. When ships come to Singapore they need to refuel. Shipowners and operators contact bunkering companies weeks in advance to ensure the proper grade and quantity of fuel is reserved. For this service, Equatorial Marine is often the bunkering company of choice.

“We are a very independent company,” says the company’s marketing manager, Michael Chia. “From the crew to the barges — from enquiries to deliveries — we control the entire supply chain. We are aware of exactly what’s happening at all times.”

With about 40 percent, on average, of overall shipping costs going to fuel, Equatorial Marine has created a new approach in servicing its clients that allows them to remain competitive during the down-cycle. “It has become increasingly common for clients to request an order three to six months in advance due to the price volatility in the market,” says the company’s deputy director, Choong Zhen Mao. “We now give them the opportunity to hedge their orders and lock-in prices well ahead of time, as well as offer options to buy or sell their order in the future. This way, savings for the clients can be tremendous.” Over the years, the company has forged strong relationships with many Japanese companies, particularly with major Japanese trading companies making up a substantial portion of Equatorial Marine’s portfolio. “Strong relationships are critical in the shipping sector,” says Choong. “Our Japanese clients are very sharp, and are amazing people with whom to work. They trust us because we have always made it a point to make sure everything is properly communicated and delivered.”

With a solid foundation and fresh ideas, the company plans to reach out to new clients, while remaining competitive and maintaining long-term relationships. “We want to provide an extremely transparent environment to our clients,” Choong concludes. “We are able to ratify changes and understand what our clients want, and we tell them exactly what they are getting.”