A Belgian chemical firm officially opened a $50 million plant on Jurong Island yesterday, its third and largest in Asia.
It produces special alkoxylate surfactants, which give liquids certain characteristics such as cleansing or emulsifying properties. They are used in agrochemicals, coatings, and oil and gas, or for home and personal care products.
Solvay Novecare, which has seven similar plants around the world, said the Singapore facility is expected to complement existing operations in India and China and to help the firm expand market access in Indonesia, Thailand and Malaysia.
The company also has its regional headquarters, a technology centre and a research and innovation operation in Singapore.
Its new plant, which can produce up to 50,000 tonnes of surfactants a year, gets its key ingredient, ethylene oxide, via a dedicated pipeline from Shell.
Second Minister for Trade and Industry S. Iswaran said at the opening that the collaboration between Solvay Novecare and Shell is an example of the potential for speciality chemical companies to piggyback on Singapore's established petrochemical sector.
"Riding on these trends, Singapore is well placed to capture the strong growth opportunities in speciality chemicals," added Mr Iswaran, who is also Second Minister for Home Affairs.
Solvay Novecare also officially opened an expanded oil and gas laboratory at its research and innovation centre in Biopolis yesterday.
The new lab focuses on chemical solutions to challenges in resource recovery from shale and other alternative sources.
Company president Emmanuel Butstraen said its US$1.3 billion (S$1.8 billion) acquisition of American producer Chemlogics in 2013 "got us a very strong know-how in this (oil and gas) business".