Shell opens massive new lubricant plant in Tuas

Shell Tuas Lubricants Plant is the third-largest of its kind globally.
Shell Tuas Lubricants Plant is the third-largest of its kind globally. PHOTO: SHELL

Facility will serve as strategic production hub, and support expansion plans in region

Energy giant Royal Dutch Shell has ramped up its investment here with the opening of a high-tech plant in Tuas - about the size of 25 football pitches - that will serve as a springboard for expanding its presence across the region.

For Shell, the facility is the third-largest of its kind globally .

It will produce up to 430 million litres (390,000 tonnes) of industrial lubricants and greases a year - enough to change the engine oil of 12,000 cars every hour, every day, for a year.

The products that will roll out of the plant to be shipped to more than 40 countries, mainly in the Asia-Pacific, include Shell Helix motor oil and the heavy-duty engine oil known as Shell Rimula.

The state-of-the art facility replaces the company's plant in Woodlands, which has an annual output of 240,000 tonnes.

It will now produce 50 per cent more with the same 100 or so staff and contractors as at Woodlands.

Mr Huibert Vigeveno, executive vice-president for Shell's global commercial division, said it will support the firm's ambitions in the Asia-Pacific. "It serves as a strategic production hub, and will be the centrepiece of our lubricant supply chain network to reliably supply our world-class lubricants to millions of customers in the region," he added.

The Asia-Pacific region accounts for more than 40 per cent of the global market for finished lubricants.

Shell operates 50 lubricant blending and grease manufacturing plants globally, including 16 in Asia.

Three out of its five base oil plants are also in this region.

Mr Vigeveno noted: "This facility will also further strengthen our marine lubricant business' presence in Singapore, the world's second-busiest port."

The new plant is next to the Singapore Lube Park in Tuas.

This shared-facilities joint venture between Shell, Sinopec and Total has an import-export jetty, pipelines and a 159,000 cubic m tank farm.

Sinopec opened a $134 million facility, similar to Shell's, on an adjacent site in 2013 with an annual output of up to 100,000 tonnes, while Total launched a $150 million blending plant in 2015.

Mr Lim Kok Kiang, assistant managing director of the Economic Development Board, said yesterday that Shell's commitment to improving productivity ties in with the strategies of the industry transformation map for the energy and chemicals sector. The plan is to create 1,400 new jobs by 2025 and achieve a manufacturing value-add of $12.7 billion.

"With a 50 per cent increase in capacity and sixfold improvement in productivity over its previous plant, the new plant will be yet another great showcase of an advanced manufacturing facility that provides Singaporeans with good jobs," he said.

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on November 02, 2017, with the headline 'Shell opens massive new lubricant plant in Tuas'. Print Edition | Subscribe