ExxonMobil to buy Jurong Aromatics petrochemical plant

The ExxonMobil booth at Gastech, in Chiba, Japan.
The ExxonMobil booth at Gastech, in Chiba, Japan.PHOTO: REUTERS

SINGAPORE - ExxonMobil has reached an agreement to acquire the assets of Jurong Aromatics Corp (JAC), namely its refining-petrochemical plant on Jurong Island that is one of the largest in the world.

"Integration of this aromatics plant with ExxonMobil's existing manufacturing facility will provide product and logistical synergies that will enable our continued growth and competitiveness," Mr Gan Seow Kee, chairman and managing director of ExxonMobil Asia Pacific Pte Ltd, said in a media release on Thursday (May 11).

"Our decision to acquire the facility is also indicative of the advantages Jurong Island provides for the petrochemical and refining industry, as well as Singapore's importance in global trade and economic progress," said Mr Gan.

Singapore is home to ExxonMobil's largest integrated refining and petrochemical complex, which has a crude oil processing capacity of 592,000 barrels per day and includes two world-scale steam crackers.

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Acquisition of the Jurong aromatics plant, which has an annual production capacity of 1.4 million tonnes, will increase ExxonMobil's Singapore aromatics production to over 3.5 million tonnes per year, of which 1.8 million tonnes is paraxylene.

"As a leading global manufacturer of aromatics, the addition of this plant to our existing operations in Singapore will help us better serve our customers in key Asian growth markets," said Mr Matthew Aguiar, senior vice-president of basic chemicals, intermediates and synthetics for ExxonMobil Chemical Company. "We continue to make strategic investments that will ensure ExxonMobil is well positioned to meet increasing global demand for chemical products."

ExxonMobil said it expects to complete the transaction in the second half of 2017 and is working to offer employment to many qualified employees from JAC.

"We have been working closely with the receivers and managers of JAC to keep employees informed about the transaction. Their knowledge and expertise will help ensure the safe and reliable operations of the plant," Mr Gan said.

JAC went into receivership in September 2015, struggling with debt problems in the face of a global commodity rout at that time. It was also forced to halt production for around 18 months to fix a technical issue at its Jurong plant that had cost around US$2.4 billion to build.

ExxonMobil has operated in Singapore for more than 120 years and is one of the country's largest international manufacturing investors. Singapore's integrated petrochemical complex can process a wide range of feedstocks, from light gases to crude oil. Later this year, the complex will begin the phased start-up of new 230,000 tonne-per-year speciality polymers facilities that will produce halobutyl rubber and performance resins for adhesive applications.