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Study on the Ship Air Emissions in the Port of Singapore

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The Maritime & Port of Singapore (MPA) commissioned ESC to conduct an Air Emissions Study to help evaluate the contribution of ship emissions to Singapore’s air quality.  

About the Project

The Port of Singapore is one of the busiest ports in the world with 130,000 ship calls recorded for 2007. The port is located along the Straits of Malacca and Singapore. The straits are among the world’s busiest and most important international waterways and are located between Indonesia, Malaysia and Singapore, linking the South China Sea with the Indian Ocean.  

As a major highway for maritime trade, there are more than 50,000 transit voyages through the straits each year. The Maritime & Port Authority of Singapore (MPA) is the Singapore Government Agency responsible for regulating the Port of Singapore, with the mission to develop and promote Singapore as a premier global hub port and an international maritime centre and to advance and safeguard Singapore’s strategic maritime interests. 

ESC prepared the study for the Maritime and Port Authority of Singapore (MPA) to help the evaluation of the contribution of ship emissions to Singapore’s air quality. The study involved a comprehensive inventory of emissions from sea going vessels as well as land-based mobile sources within the port boundaries including background sources. It was conducted for the reference year 2007. It included air dispersion modelling and evaluation of the criteria pollutants CO, SO2, NOx, particulate matter (PM10 and PM2.5), CO2 and hydrocarbons in order to evaluate the impact of ship air emissions on ambient air quality. 

The study also involved the identification and application of cost-effective abatement operational and emission control measures for ships and terminal operators.

Our Approach

The scope of the study was designed to cover the following areas; 

  • Investigate the level of air pollutants emitted from shipping and port-related activities in the Port of Singapore;
  • Investigate the level of air pollutants emitted from transiting ships; 
  • Evaluate the impact of the above air pollutants on Singapore’s ambient air quality. 

The following pollutants were the subject of the study investigation:

  • Criteria pollutants: CO, SO2, NOx, PM (PM10 and PM2.5 (inhalable particles), greenhouse gases: CO2 and hydrocarbons. 

At the request of the MPA, emissions from transiting ships have been assessed to better understand the relative contribution to pollutants that this source provides. Transiting ships are defined as those ships passing through the deep-water route of the Straits of Malacca and Singapore (SOMS), which primarily includes the areas known as Singapore Strait and Main Strait, without calling at the Port of Singapore.  

As this study was focused on Port of Singapore activities, the emissions from transiting ships have been separated from those emissions derived from Port of Singapore activities. However, the contributing effect of the emissions from transiting ships on Singapore’s ambient air quality has been assessed. 
The methodology used to develop the emissions follows international best practice as defined within the US EPA publication (2006) on “Current Methodologies and Best Practices in Preparing Port Emission Inventories”. 


The findings of the underlying emissions inventory for the port and its transiting ships and their contribution to ambient air quality indicates that the importance of the shipping industry to Singapore Commerce is proportionate to its contribution to atmospheric emissions. Therefore, increases in emissions from this source may have the potential to outweigh the positive environmental impacts from any reduction in land-based emissions. In order to successfully build on the knowledge and understanding developed from this study, it is recommended that Singapore Authorities give consideration to assessing the economic and technical feasibility, effectiveness and monitorability of adopting a suite of measures or improving upon them where they already exist. 

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