ExxonMobil is looking to sanction a multibillion-dollar project at its integrated manufacturing facility in Singapore next year, to produce higher-value products and expand lubricant base stock output.
Base stocks or base oils are commonly used for blending finished lubricants used to oil engines in vehicles, ships, planes and industrial plants.
A final investment decision for the expansion project is targeted for the first half of next year, with production start-up envisaged for 2023.
ExxonMobil Fuels and Lubricants Company president Bryan Milton said this investment would move the Singapore facility "to the top quartile worldwide in terms of refining competitiveness" and increase its "competitive advantage from crude cracking".
The project is the latest and most significant in a series of ExxonMobil investments to bolster base stock production in Singapore.
Last year, ExxonMobil announced it would expand its Singapore refinery to upgrade production of its EHC Group II base stocks. Construction began last year and commissioning of the plant is expected by early next year.
Mr Gan Seow Kee, chairman and managing director of ExxonMobil Asia Pacific, noted that the supermajor has operated in Singapore for 125 years. "We continue to expand our business footprint here with strategic investments that will help meet the growing demand for cleaner, high-quality products in the region and the world."
The expansion project will result in the production of fuels that comply with the International Maritime Organisation's (IMO) global sulphur cap. In October 2016, IMO, as the overarching regulatory body for international shipping, firmed up its game plan to impose a 0.5 per cent cap on sulphur content in marine fuels used on board ships.
ExxonMobil also intends, with this expansion project, to apply advanced technology that provides for the production of a new high-viscosity Group II base stock.
Mr Nick Berthiaux, vice-president of ExxonMobil basestocks and specialties, said: "By introducing higher-value base stocks in larger volumes, we can meet the needs of an expanded customer base looking to satisfy more stringent industry requirements, such as reducing emissions and improving fuel economy."