R&D Resources

Interview with Mr Peter Noble

SMI had the opportunity to interview Mr Peter Noble, President and Principal Advisor of Noble Associates, LLC Marine, Offshore and Arctic Technology Advisors, in January 2014 on “Arctic Research & Development”.

Peter Noble

A naval architect and offshore engineer with a wide range of expertise and experience in the marine and offshore industries. Born and educated in the UK, he served an apprenticeship in a Clydeside shipyard and obtain a degree in naval architecture from the University of Glasgow. His career has included positions with ship and offshore design consultants, with offshore and marine research and development companies, with major classification societies and recently as Chief Naval Architect with ConocoPhillips, the international oil company, up to his retirement in early 2013. He has in-depth experience in Offshore, LNG and Arctic technologies.

Peter has had many opportunities to apply his creative engineering talents to provide innovative solutions and he hold a number of patents for offshore equipment and marine systems.

He is currently serving as President of the Society of Naval Architects and Marine Engineers, the international professional community for those working in maritime and offshore technologies. He also undertakes consulting and advisory assignments in the fields of offshore, marine and Arctic technology.

Peter is the 2006 recipient of the SNAME Adm. Land Medal for his contributions to the marine industry and in 2009 he was recognized by the Board of the Offshore Technology Conference and awarded the OTC Individual Distinguished Achievement Award “for his contribution to innovative marine vehicle and floating system design and engineering, including LNG vessel design, arctic engineering and icebreaker technology and for his dedication to encouraging and mentoring students and younger professionals.”

Arctic Research & Development

*PN: Peter Noble

What are the biggest challenges in Arctic Oil & Gas exploration and production (E&P) (e.g. ice management, low accessibility, safety & reliability, environmental impacts) in your opinion? Are the technologies ready for full scale Arctic drilling?

  1. PN: There are many challenges but the biggest is probably “permitting”. Of course the reason that permitting is a big hurdle is that the oil industry has not fully satisfied public and regulatory concerns with respect to environment impact, etc.
  2. GOM incident has sent awaking signals to the operators that safety and reliability are of paramount importance during the E&P activities. Do you think this incident deterred the push for Arctic Oil & Gas activities?

    PN: The recent GOM incident certain caused some pause in Arctic E&P, but I think we now see continued interest and activity in US, Canada and in particularly in Russia. Arctic E&P is not a “short game” but does hold promise for large oil discoveries so exploration will continue.

  3. Shell has invested significantly in this area but has been beset by delays since original plans to drill in 2007. Do you see the community (industry and regulatory authorities) taking more of an observer status now rather than a leading role for Arctic related activities?

    PN: No I think that things are ramping up again. In Alaska, Shell has applied for drilling permits for 2014 for the Chukchi (I think there is very good chance that they will drill in 2015). ConocoPhillips and Statoil are playing a waiting game but are ready to move on their Chukchi leases as soon as Shell has some discoveries. In Canada, ConocoPhillips and Chevron continue to do Pre-Feed on the big Amauligak filed development and in Russia the ExxonMobil/Rosneft partnership are aggressively pursuing options to drill their leases in the Kara, Laptev and Chukchi Seas.

  4. Will the development of gas and associated technologies (shale gas, GTL) render Arctic Oil & Gas less attractive in your opinion?

    PN: Definitely not. All of the Arctic plays are looking for oil rather than gas. We have plenty of gas discoveries throughout the Arctic but even before shale gas keeping the price low there was no way to easily monetize Arctic gas.

  5. With Singapore being geographically distant from the Arctic Circle, do you foresee any opportunities for the local yards and potentially the equipment manufacturers?

    PN: Distance is not a factor. Singapore is not close to the N. Sea or Brazil and yet it builds lots of equipment for both of these regions. The oil and gas market is truly global and Singapore has a great reputation so I do not see any geographically driven hurdles.

  6. Are there any possible R&D areas for the research community in Singapore that in your opinion, will support the activities of the local yards?

    PN: I think there is a strong need for the “D” in the R&D term. Maybe “small r & BIG D” would be a better way to put it.

    If we examine the history of the offshore, most innovation preceded the research that later came to support it. For example, we developed TLPs before we found that tendon ringing could be a problem and so we carried out research to solve that issue. Similarly, VIV was identified as an issue after we had designed and built a number of deep water moored production facilities and we then conducted research to identify and address the issue. In the Arctic, we have identified issues around ice-loading after we successfully build and operated the Molikpaq arctic drilling caisson. There is a huge scope for innovation in the area of Technology Development in support of local industry and I would advise on trying to focus on supporting that, rather than undertaking basic or even applied research. Innovation should be driven by market opportunity and supported by technology development and some applied research.

  7. There is no Arctic testing facility in the region. Do you think that this would constrain the type of R&D activities that could be meaningfully performed in Singapore? How shall we overcome this constraint (perhaps through working with some of the overseas locations with ice basin and associated testing facilities or is it worthwhile to consider an Arctic basin in Singapore)?

    PN: The biggest hurdle is not the lack of an ice basin facility, but rather the lack of staff who are experienced in the field of Arctic engineering. I suggest that the path forward would be to form a joint venture of some sort with, for example, the National Research Council of Canada, who have both facilities and expertise. Since Canada in no way competes with Singapore in the offshore and marine construction market this might be a win-win approach. Other ice basins exist in places like Hamburg and Helsinki, but it may be more difficult to get good cooperation as the Germans and Finns still support their marine construction industries and thus may not be the best partners for Singapore.

Simulation & Modelling (SAM)

Awarded on 17 Oct 2014

In addition to being one of the busiest ports in the world, Singapore has also likewise thrived as one of the leading global maritime capitals that is highly driven by knowledge-based services and expertise. With changing demands and complexity of port and shipping activities, there would be a need for better management of complex port and ship systems.

With global trend drivers, such as shipping market volatility, environmental regulations, and energy cost-efficiency, advanced technological solutions would be required to address these concerns through innovation in port infrastructure and ship design. Hydrodynamics, physical modelling, and mathematical modelling are some of the scientific means towards more cost-effective and environmentally friendly operations. There has also been proposed methodology that focuses more on integrated systems-approach over independent components-approach.

An integrated systems strategy would also drive the need to manage sophisticated engineering and technology through risk-based approach for higher reliability and asset lifecycle management to bring cost benefits. This would enable users to complement both business and technical objectives.

Building upon the above technological trend towards a greater need for advanced complex systems, higher end training would also be required to produce competent manpower with the critical domain knowledge and skillsets. Looking beyond the conventional field of training through simulation, research in the human-machine interface through applied human engineering studies of maritime ergonomics would also be applicable to optimise interaction between people and technology for safety and productivity best practices.

As part of Singapore Maritime Institute’s (SMI) efforts to support the maritime industry in Singapore, a research grant amounting to S$5 million has been allocated to promote research through this thematic R&D programme. The Simulation & Modelling (SAM) R&D Programme aims to support projects involving the research and development of innovative technologies, approaches and ideas towards simulation & modelling for maritime applications.


Programme Themes

  • Risk Management
  • Human Factor Studies
  • Maritime Training & Operation

Asset Integrity & Risk Management (AIM)

Awarded on 02 Nov 2015

In oil & gas E&P, safe and reliable operations are of paramount importance to the industry. Asset integrity should never be compromised and risk management is critical to ensure lives and marine environment are safeguarded.

With enhanced oil recovery techniques, operators are stretching the existing reserves with assets that are reaching their design service life. These aged assets are often susceptible to failures due to mechanical degradations and harsh offshore environment.

Oil exploration has also inevitably moved into deep-sea as shallower oil wells become depleted. The offshore assets are installed in deeper water and are increasingly inaccessible. The associated cost of asset maintenance increases exponentially for deep-water regions resulting in the need for technological innovations in asset integrity & risk management. Integrity assessment and risk management solutions, anticipation of possible failures of systems and emergency response plans in the event of asset failures would be critical.

The offshore assets covered include offshore structures, subsea and down-hole equipment. The key research objectives are:

a) Identification of safety critical elements (SCEs)
The weakest structural components that are most susceptible to external forces, cyclic loadings and harsh environment known as safety critical elements should be identified.

b) Reduction of reliance on manual inspection
The inaccessible assets in deeper water and harsher environment drive the need for remote and autonomous inspection and maintenance which are increasingly reliant on sensor based technologies.

c) Low hardware overheads
Cost is one of the major considerations when sensors and wireless systems are installed. Such overheads include the cost of manufacturing the sensors and systems, power requirement as well installation compatibility with the existing assets.

d) High reliability systems under harsh environment
The increasingly harsh environment at deeper water with strong waves and currents as well as deeper wells with hostile chemicals and high pressure high temperature (HPHT) pose significant technical challenges. Sensors and systems must survive such environment with high reliability.


Programme Themes

  • Software Development
  • Hardware Development & Deployment
  • New Asset Installation
  • System Level Management

Projects awarded (will be updated progressely):

Joint Call for Proposals in Maritime Research between Norway and Singapore (MNS)

Awarded on 21 Mar 2016

Maritime Research between Norway and Singapore (MNS)

The Maritime and Port Authority of Singapore (“MPA”) and the Research Council of Norway (“RCN”) executed a Memorandum of Understanding on 6th March 2000 (“MOU”) relating to joint co-operation in maritime research, development, education and training. The MOU will be extended for its sixth successive three-year term in 2015.
To further enhance this co-operation, and to facilitate the creation of collaborative projects between the research communities in Singapore and Norway, RCN, MPA and Singapore Maritime Institute (“SMI”) have launched a joint call for bilateral funding of research projects in mutually agreed fields. A total of NOK 15 million is available from RCN for Norwegian partners and up to S$3 million is available from SMI for the Singaporean partners.

Research areas covered

The call is in the field of maritime research. The applications in this call must cover one or more of the following topics:
Maritime arctic research
  • Operational decision support systems and logistics solutions
  • Emergency preparedness, prevention & response

Maritime navigation safety

  • e-Navigation
  • Vessel Traffic Management
  • Data analytics on traffic pattern and risk
  • Ship-shore communication
  • Internet of things at sea

Ship operation & safety

  • Simulation & Training
  • Human factors studies
  • Unmanned ships
  • Remote Piloting
  • Control Room Systems
  • Hull structural design

Green shipping

  • Green fuels
  • Energy efficiency
  • Ballast water
  • Hull cleaning
  • Optimizing routing and operation
  • Hull and propeller design
  • Energy saving devices
  • LNG Bunkering in Shipping

Ship-port operations

  • Port optimization
  • Smart ports

Advanced Materials and Manufacturing (Amm)

Awarded on 01 Aug 2016

Oil and gas exploration and production (E&P) has inevitably moved into harsher operating environment. While oil price has slumped to a very low level, industry is focusing on technology developments to lower the cost of E&P. The fundamental sciences such as chemistry, physics and materials have attracted more attention than before in seeking innovative and disruptive technologies to enhance operational efficiency and improve reliability.


Operations in deeper waters with strong waves and currents pose challenges on structural integrity. Operations in Arctic pose a different set of challenges with extreme low temperature. As industry moves into ultra-deep wells with extreme high pressure and high temperature (HPHT), higher reliability is required in meeting the performance specifications to ensure safe and reliable operations. The underpinning material sciences in different operating regimes are the fundamental challenges to the increasingly harsh E&P environment.


Industry is also constantly innovating new materials for offshore applications as well as smart materials which allow more perimeters to be measured for condition monitoring of offshore structures and processes.


SMI through its engagements with the industry and academia has identified the following research thrusts and corresponding research focus areas under the grant call.  The materials covered in this grant call should be used in offshore structures, subsea and down-hole equipment with the following key research objectives:


  1. New materials development and materials enhancement to meet the operating needs under harsher environment while maintaining cost competitiveness
  2. Smart materials developments which allow condition monitoring and improve operational efficiency in the E&P lifecycle
  3. Testing methodologies developments to improve the accuracy of materials assessment and/or allow in-situ assessment to determine real-life residual life and fatigue conditions
  4. Enhancement of materials processability to improve performance and reliability of processed materials and structures


Programme Themes

  • New Materials Development
  • Materials Enhancement
  • Material Testing
  • Material Processing & Manufacturing

Maritime Sustainability (MSA)

Awarded on 04 Jan 2016

Given its location at the crossroad between East and West trade, Singapore is one of the busiest ports in the world for commercial shipping and maritime services. Last year, the Port of Singapore welcomed more than 135,000 vessels and handled a total of 560 million tonnes of cargo. The maritime industry is an important part of Singapore’s economy as it is one of the fastest growing economic sectors, contributing to 7% of Singapore’s GDP.

To address one of the key challenges facing the maritime industry on sustainable shipping, research and development into innovative technologies to transform maritime transportation and port operations will enhance both regulatory compliance and better service offerings by the industry.

SMI through its engagements with the industry and academia has identified the following research areas and possible corresponding research topics under the Maritime Sustainability grant call to support maritime developments and environment protection:


a) Ballast Water Management
Possible Research Topics include Detection and Measuring Equipment / Treatment System, Treatment Technology, and Risk Assessment for Ballast Water Management System.


b) Exhaust Emission Control
Possible Research Topics include Scrubbing / Cleaning Technology, Tools and Systems.


c) Ship Noise & Vibration
Possible Research Topics include Simulation & Modelling, Materials, and Ship Design and Construction.


d) Port Sustainability
Possible Research Topics include Port Air Emission Control Technology, Cleaner Energy for Port, Port Waste-to-Resource Management, and Energy Conservation.

Programme Themes

  • Ballast Water Management
  • Exhaust Emission Control
  • Ship Noise & Vibration
  • Port Sustainability

MPA and SMI Joint Call for Proposals 2020 on Harbour Craft Electrification

Awarded on 01 Oct 2021

The Maritime and Port Authority of Singapore (MPA) and the Singapore Maritime Institute (SMI) have awarded funding to three consortiums led by Keppel FELS Limited, SeaTech Solutions and Sembcorp Marine, and comprising a total of 30 enterprises and research institutions, to research, design, build and operate a fully electric harbourcraft over the next five years. These electrification pilot projects will demonstrate both commercial and technical viability of specific use cases for full electric harbourcraft and will support Singapore’s broader plans to mitigate greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions by the maritime transport sector.


Harbourcraft Electrification Projects

No Consortium lead  Consortium members Project Scope
1 Keppel FELS Limited


  1. DNV
  2. Eng Hup Shipping

(Vessel owner/operator)

  1. Envision Digital
  2. Surbana Jurong

IHLs/ research institutes

  1. Nanyang Technological University (NTU)
  2. Technology Centre for Offshore and Marine, Singapore
To develop Solid State Transformer based shore charger & electric kit on an existing 30 pax ferry
2 SeaTech Solutions International (S) Pte Ltd


  1. Batam Fast Ferry Pte Ltd
  2. Bernhard Schulte (Singapore) Holdings Pte Ltd
  3. DM Sea Logistics Pte Ltd
  4. Jurong Port Pte Ltd
  5. Kenoil Marine Services Pte Ltd
  6. Lita Ocean Pte Ltd
  7. Marina Offshore Pte Ltd
  8. Rina Hong Kong Limited Singapore Branch
  9. Sterling PBES Energy Solutions Ltd.
  10. Yinson Production Offshore Pte Ltd

(Vessel owner)

IHLs/ research institutes

  1. Singapore Institute of Technology
  2. Technology Centre for Offshore and Marine, Singapore
To develop a full electric lighter craft[i]
3 Sembcorp Marine Integrated Yard Pte Ltd


  1. ABB Pte Ltd
  2. Durapower Holdings Pte Ltd
  3. Jurong Marine Services Pte Ltd
  4. OPL Services Pte Ltd
  5. Rolls-Royce Singapore Pte Ltd
  6. SP One Pte Ltd
  7. Tian San Shipping Pte Ltd

(Vessel Owner/ operator)

  1. York Launch Pte Ltd

IHLs/ research institutes

  1. A-STAR Institute of High-Performance Computing
  2. Nanyang Technological University
  3. National University of Singapore
  4. Singapore Institute of Technology
To develop and build a full electric ferry for 200 persons for a specific route
[i] A lighter craft is a vessel used for the carriage of dry or packaged cargoes.