Shell gets award for being a partner in S'pore's progress

Energy giant Royal Dutch Shell has been honoured for its contributions to the Singapore economy over the past 120 years.

Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong presented the Honorary Partner in Progress award to Shell yesterday at an Istana ceremony attended by 50 guests, including British High Commissioner Antony Phillipson and Dutch Ambassador Jacques Werner.

Shell is the first company to win the award, which recognises corporations for their investments in and contributions to the country. The accolade is given to past recipients of the Distinguished Partner in Progress award that have continued to strengthen their commitment to Singapore. Thirty- one firms have received this award.

Shell set up in Singapore in 1891 when it built the island's first oil storage installation on Pulau Bukom, originally a mangrove swamp. The Dutch- based company also established Singapore's first oil refinery in 1961. It employs around 3,200 staff.

The Shell Eastern Petrochemicals Complex, which spans Pulau Bukom and Jurong Island, is the company's largest refinery and petrochemicals hub in the world.

Mr Lee said at the ceremony that the energy and chemicals industries will continue to play a key role in Singapore's growth.

More than $13 billion has been invested in plants on Jurong Island since last year, creating more than 1,200 skilled jobs. But these sectors are resource-intensive - they occupy a significant amount of industrial land and have an environmental impact, he added.

Singapore will ensure a supply of land for future development and also find ways to optimise land use - for instance, by using the Jurong Rock Caverns for underground oil storage.

It will do its part as a "responsible member of the international community" to reduce emissions and meet climate change obligations, Mr Lee said.

"The Government will continue to work with companies to develop the industry sustainably, and make it worthwhile to operate in Singapore for the long term."

Mr Mirza Mohd Sallah, 42, a production unit manager who has been with Shell since 1996, said the firm has been supportive of his training and development.

Mr Mirza, who was at the ceremony yesterday, has been promoted 11 times over the past 18 years. He joined Shell as a process technician with a polytechnic diploma.

He earned an engineering degree from the University of Wolverhampton in 1999 and now oversees a team of 30.

He said his time at Shell has "fulfilled (his) aspirations to be a leader" and helped him "grow (his) network globally".

chiaym@sph.com.sg