A new US$1.4 billion (S$1.9 billion) complex on Jurong Island by industrial gases and engineering group Linde is to be fully operational by 2023, and set to quadruple its capacity here to produce and supply hydrogen and synthesis gas.
A key reason for this is to support the multibillion-dollar expansion of ExxonMobil Asia-Pacific's integrated manufacturing complex, which will be its main client.
Such an investment is testimony to Singapore's focus on the long term, setting the foundation for the next few decades, said Trade and Industry Minister Chan Chun Sing yesterday at the ground-breaking ceremony for the new facility.
The complex will be integrated with Linde's existing gasification facility on Jurong Island, nearly tripling its size.
Noting that Singapore is the world's fifth-largest petroleum exporter, Mr Chan said Singapore needs to focus on its fundamentals to distinguish itself amid competition and uncertainties today.
The Republic needs to provide a stable and pro-business environment to attract long-term investors such as Linde and ExxonMobil, on top of having consistency and coherence in policymaking, he added.
While Singapore may not be the cheapest location, it will surpass others in how it delivers value, he said.
"In recent times, despite the uncertainties, many significant investments have planted themselves in Singapore because of our superior connectivity not just in the air, land and sea dimensions, but also in the dimensions of our data, finance, talent, technology and regulatory connectivity," he said. "We have every intention to not rest on our laurels."
Linde's move supports the expansion of ExxonMobil and its plan to grow the production of higher-value base stocks for lubricants and distillates from fuel oil, as well as other bottom-of-the-barrel crude products. Hydrogen and synthesis gas are needed for this process, and hydrogen is also used to help meet upcoming maritime regulations.
Linde's expanded plant takes bottom-of-the barrel, heavy residuals from ExxonMobil to put through a gasification process, producing hydrogen and other products that would be returned to the company.
ExxonMobil's project, also slated to be completed by 2023, will be able to increase production of low-sulphur fuel to meet the International Maritime Organisation's (IMO) requirement that sulphur levels in ship fuels do not exceed 0.5 per cent by next January.
"A part of our project was driven by regulation, the IMO 2020 regulation around maritime bunker fuels and the reduction in sulphurates," said Linde's Asia-Pacific chief executive Sanjiv Lamba yesterday.
Linde chief executive Steve Angel said that it is also serving other customers on Jurong Island such as the Singapore Refining Company.
"Maritime fuel is very important to a lot of refineries here... in the middle of a major trading area. It made all the sense in the world that ExxonMobil and other companies around the world made these investments to meet the requirements of IMO 2020," he said.
The new facility will add around 70 high-value manufacturing jobs in Singapore to Linde's current headcount here of about 240.
New roles range from an operations manager for the new complex, to process specialists and special technical personnel looking after instrumentation, electricals as well as major machinery.
Over the next four years, Linde Gas Singapore will also be executing projects including a series of modifications and interconnections to integrate the new complex and its existing facility.
This will ensure continuity of gas supplies to its existing customers on Jurong Island during the construction period, said Linde.
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