Sembcorp Marine battling COVID-19 related workforce shortages

Singapore-based Sembcorp Marine continues to face COVID-19 supply chain constraints and shortage of skilled workers, the company said announcing its Q1 results.

The workforce shortage has been ascribed to the ongoing travel bans caused by the pandemic, as foreign workers, primarily those from India and Bangladesh, are unable to return to Singapore.

Specifically, the Ministry of Health of Singapore banned all long-term pass holders and short-term visitors with recent travel history to Bangladesh, Nepal, Pakistan, and Sri Lanka within the last 14 days to entry into or transit through Singapore. The move follows a similar ban on travelers from India amid a sharp increase in infections. The ban entered into force on May 1, 2021.

India, in particular, has been severely impacted by the new wave of infections, passing a staggering 20 million cases.

“The improving Singapore economy has also led to increased competition for foreign labour already here, resulting in attrition of labour to competing industries,” the shipbuilder said.

“The shortage of skilled workers has impacted the execution and scheduled completion of some of our projects.”

Sembcorp Marine said it was working with its clients to coordinate and re-schedule project completions as a key priority.

The group has an existing order book of over S$1.89 billion ($1.41 billion), including S$0.29 billion of ongoing repairs and upgrades for delivery in 2021.

“While discussions are ongoing, there has been no cancellation to-date of any of our existing projects,” the marine and offshore engineering company said.

“The group is actively sourcing for skilled workers from other countries and is working with the relevant authorities to expedite their entry into Singapore.”

Commenting on the future orders, Sembcorp is bullish amid an improved market sentiment although the post-COVID-19 recovery remains uncertain.

“There are increasing signs of active reviews of FIDs (final investment decisions) and improved orders visibility. However, competition for new projects remains intense,” the company added.

The Singapore-based shipbuilder is tendering for more than 10 projects, especially in the renewable energy and gas solutions segment.

A similar number of tenders are in progress for the process solutions segment covering FPSOs, FSOs and FPUs.