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Singapore to probe SGX power outage

Singapore Exchange sets up inquiry team to investigate last week's power outage that brought trading to a halt for more than three hours, after its backup power systems failed to function.

An inquiry team has been set up to probe the recent power outage that brought stock trading in Singapore to a halt for more than three hours. 

Preliminary investigation by the Singapore Exchange (SGX) revealed that its uninterruptible power supply (UPS) system didn't come on after the main power went out on November 5. Securities and derivatives trading could not be processed during the power outage. 

SGX has set up an inquiry panel and engaged independent experts to investigate the outage as well as assess the exchange's contingency plan, Singapore's Deputy Prime Minister and Minister for Finance Tharman Shanmugaratnam told local reporters. Of key concern was the failure of the backup power system to activate, he said.

"This is equipment that had been tested [and] has gone through disaster recovery exercises, but something failed. Not just with regard to the primary power supply, but the backup system. So they have to get to the bottom of that," Tharman said.

He added that the exchange will need to thoroughly review its processes and ensure it has a "tight system of SOPs (standard operating procedures)", so it can identify risks and  make decisions quickly.

SGX must submit its preliminary investigation report to the Monetary Authority of Singapore (MAS) next week, or within a fortnight after the Nov 5 incident. 

Tharman said the authority will be monitoring the probe and will decide on the course of action needed at a later date. The minister noted that Singapore must prevent such glitches from happening or risk damaging its reputation as a financial hub.

Commenting on the outage last week, SGX said power was supplied to its data center from two separate substations, each of which had its own UPS system. A "momentary fluctuation in power supply from the substations" caused the UPS systems to switch to their internal power sources, but both of these malfunctioned. 

Power services provider, SG Powergrid, said it did not experience any disruption in supply from its network during the SGX incident. It had detected a voltage fluctuation lasting 0.1 second in the northern part of the island that was caused by lightning. "For the handful of customers with sensitive equipment and hence are more susceptible, it is industry practice for them to have protection systems against voltage fluctuations," SG Powergrid said.