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2 more projects launched on Jurong Island

They will boost its global competitiveness
Thursday, May 15, 2014 - 06:00

[SINGAPORE] Singapore has launched two more projects on Jurong Island (JI) to beef up its global competitiveness.

These are the establishment of a new, inter-agency Safety & Risk Management Centre (SRMC) to jointly manage system-level risks for the petrochemicals industry, and the finalisation of an LPG terminal venture to bring in an alternative feedstock for the largely naphtha-fuelled crackers here, said S Iswaran, Minister in the Prime Minister's Office.

The projects, which come under the JI 2.0 initiative, have boosted the island's attractiveness for investors such as Infineum, which yesterday inaugurated its US$150 million, top-tier salicylate additives plant here, which is the largest single global investment by the ExxonMobil/Shell joint venture to date.

"We see Singapore as being a big part of our future," Trevor Russell, Infineum's executive vice president of sales & supply, told a media briefing, adding that all the ticks are in the right boxes here and that "the whole deal makes sense".

Mr Iswaran, who is also Second Minister for Home Affairs and Trade & Industry, said the issue of safety, for instance, was critical for the energy/chemicals industry. "This is of particular importance given the increasing complexity and interlinkages of operations in an integrated complex like Jurong Island, where disruptions at one plant can significantly affect the operations of neighbouring plants, as well as other facilities along the supply chain."

Singapore has therefore pulled together the resources and expertise of various agencies onto a single platform to jointly manage system-level risks and adopt a whole-of-government approach to safety on JI.

Thus the SRMC, which was formed in January, comprises the Singapore Civil Defence Force, Ministry of Manpower, National Environment Agency (NEA), Economic Development Board and JTC Corporation.

"We have also finalised discussions for Vopak to develop, in partnership with SK Gas, a liquefied petroleum gas import facility on Jurong Island with an initial capacity of 80,000 cubic metres," Mr Iswaran revealed.

The Business Times understands that this includes the land for the terminal, for which partners Vopak and SK Gas (which will also supply LPG) recently broke ground. Vopak had earlier announced the project last December, but without citing the South Korean company's participation then.

With Infineum's project, "we have anchored regional manufacturing facilities for the top four additives players, who collectively account for more than 80 per cent of the global market share. This places Singapore in pole position as the key manufacturing hub for lubricant additives in Asia", Mr Iswaran said.

While Infineum officials were guarded about disclosing the capacity of its latest calcium salicylate venture here - the first of its kind in the Asia Pacific and only its second after one in France - they said that it was of sufficient scale to cater to projected demand for the unique detergent component.

The Asia Pacific, where demand for salicylate is projected to be significantly higher than the 2 per cent annual global growth rate, is a key growth market for the additive, which is marketed to passenger car, heavy-duty and marine lubricant formulators, Mr Russell said. "Supply reliability is one of Infineum's highest priorities . . . and with this investment, the Singapore plant will become a manufacturing hub for calcium salicylate," he added.

Infineum secures chemical feedstocks for the plant, which just started operations last month, from various suppliers here, including ExxonMobil which is right next door. It also imports olefins from Qatar. The salicylate plant is Infineum's second facility on JI, following an earlier project which makes additives used in applications such as heavy duty diesel engine oil and automatic transmission fluids.

Asked about main challenges encountered here, Infineum's venture manager, Xavier Leleux, said it has been smooth sailing at its Singapore operations, given the excellent workforce and talent base available.

The group employs around 300 workers including at its technology centre here. While it has no firm plans currently, there is room at its JI site for future expansion, added Mr Leleux.

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