Singapore Tests Re-Opening Strategy With Energy Conference

Singapore is holding its first large-scale business conference this week since the coronavirus pandemic, a key test of efforts to restart the the city-state’s economy.

Singapore International Energy Week began Monday with 250 participants and on-site staff, with hundreds more slated to join virtually. As a hub for the oil and natural gas business, and a go-to destination for regional conferences, the Southeast Asian nation in a normal year hosts dozens of events for company officials to mingle and broker deals.

While places such as China and Taiwan have restarted business gatherings -- from automotive shows to tech conferences -- with hundreds of participants, the Singapore event will be its first step in reopening a key sector. Those attending the conference at the Marina Bay Sands hotel are required to take a Covid-19 test, with results within 30 minutes, and must download a contact-tracing app.

“This has been in the making for a long while,” Trade and Industry Minister Chan Chun Sing said in his opening remarks, which highlighted efforts to boost Singapore’s green energy sector. “We are back in business. Different format, but same spirit.”

Singapore’s government has rolled out strict measures to stop the spread of the virus, such as implementing a partial lock-down for two months, requiring mask use and limiting outdoor gatherings to five people. The economy has gradually reopened since mid-June, with daily cases dwindling in recent weeks to low single digits or zero.

High Profile

Authorities see this weeks’ conference as a test of whether their measures can create a safe environment to allow other large events, after high-profile ones such as the Formula One race and Asia Pacific Petroleum Conference were scrapped or went online this year.

The most prominent speaker at Singapore International Energy Week will be Saudi Arabia’s oil minister Abdulaziz bin Salman, though the prince will be joining virtually. Some executives, such as Jochen Eickholt, a Siemens AG board member based in Germany, will be traveling to Singapore to attend the event.

The energy event comes ahead of December’s fintech festival, which also will adopt the joint online and physical model. That conference, which attracted about 60,000 participants last year, will have speakers including Citigroup Inc. Chief Executive Officer-designate Jane Fraser, Standard Chartered Plc CEO Bill Winters and Microsoft Corp. CEO Satya Nadella.

©2020 Bloomberg L.P.

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