InterviewSingapore eyes more high value-added chemical production

04 April 2013 08:03  [Source: ICIS news]

By Nurluqman Suratman

Singapore Jurong IslandSINGAPORE (ICIS)--Singapore hopes to draw in more investments focused on higher value-added downstream derivative and specialty chemicals, as it moves into the next phase of development in Jurong Island, an official from the country’s Energy Development Board (EDB) said on Thursday.

The southeast Asian country is currently the world's third-largest refining centre and is one of the leading global petrochemical hubs with a highly integrated value chain.

Housing major petrochemical complexes of global energy majors, Singapore has a refining capacity of 1.3m bbl/day, with an ethylene capacity that will soon reach 4m tonnes/year.

The city-state’s petrochemical industry is located on Jurong Island which houses companies such as LANXESS, BASF, BP, Celanese, Shell, Evonik, ExxonMobil, DuPont, Mitsui Chemicals and Sumitomo Chemical.

The island, on the southern edge of Singapore, also contains very large crude carrier (VLCC) anchors and transmission networks for LNG, liquefied petroleum gas (LPG), and petrochemicals, according to the US Energy Information Administration.

“This is a strong foundation that we intend to continue building on," EDB director for energy and chemicals Eugene Leong told ICIS.

“At the end of the day, we hope for Singapore to be a home for chemical companies - a place where companies can hub their core activities, be it in manufacturing or innovation, alongside their decision makers and business functions that chart and manage growth for the company in Asia,” Leong said.

The Singapore government’s primary strategy in its Jurong Island version 2.0 development is the expansion into higher value-added downstream derivative and specialty chemical clusters, with recent projects in the synthetic rubber and lubricant additive sectors, according to the EDB.

Germany-based specialty chemical producer LANXESS in September 2012 broke ground for the world’s largest production facility for new neodymium-based performance butadiene rubber (Nd-PBR) on Jurong Island.

The 140,000 tonne/year plant, scheduled to be commissioned in the first half of 2015, will produce emission-reducing green tires, a fast growing sector of the tyre industry.

The company’s new high-tech butyl rubber plant went through hot commissioning in the first quarter of 2013, with regular production scheduled to commence in the third quarter of this year.

The butyl rubber plant is located next to the new Nd-PBR unit on Jurong Island.

Meanwhile, Japanese producer Asahi Kasei is planning to build a second solution-polymerised styrene butadiene rubber (S-SBR) plant in Singapore with a 50,000 tonne/year capacity by 2015.

The focus is on “infrastructure developments and system-level optimization of valuable resources, to ensure the competitiveness and sustainability of Jurong Island”, according to EDB.

The second strategy is to grow a robust research and development (R&D) base that can innovate for the customers in Asia to complement Singapore’s efforts in developing its derivative and specialty chemicals manufacturing sector, according to the EDB.

“While Singapore is a small market, we already have strong end-market ecosystems in areas such as home and personal care, water and lubricants,” said Leong.

“Our focus now is on building a favourable innovation ecosystem…as well as developing applied and multidisciplinary R&D capabilities,” he said.

The Singapore government will continue to work with the industry on feedstock options, “including near-term opportunities such as a LPG [liquefied petroleum gas] terminal which would provide feedstock flexibility for petrochemical complexes, or longer term opportunities through biochemicals,” Leong added.

Read John Richardson and Malini Hariharan’s blog – Asian Chemical Connections

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