Singapore's petrochemical in-dustry shifted up a few gears yesterday when American energy giant ExxonMobil started production at two new multibillion-dollar plants.
The huge complexes, which were completed safely and on schedule, employed an army of more than 5,500 contract workers at the peak of construction.
The two plants have added 140 jobs to ExxonMobil's existing workforce of more than 2,500 at its Singapore manufacturing complex on Jurong Island. It also employs another 1,500 people here in support functions. The new jobs are higher-skilled positions, including engineers, technicians and other technical roles.
The plants were built under a multibillion-dollar expansion project at the Jurong Island site.
One of the new plants will produce up to 90,000 tonnes a year of the firm's own product - escorez hydrogenated hydrocarbon resins - making it the world's largest facility of its kind, ExxonMobil said yesterday. These resins are used in hot-melt adhesives and typically used in diapers.
The second plant will produce up to 140,000 tonnes a year of premium halobutyl rubber that is used in tyres.
ExxonMobil's output here has been scaling up fast. Apart from the start-up of the new plants, the energy major acquired Jurong Aromatics Corporation's Jurong Island plant in August last year. The aromatics plant is one of the largest in the world.
"With these latest additions, we are well positioned to serve customers in key Asian growth markets," Mr Gan Seow Kee, chairman and managing director of ExxonMobil Asia Pacific, said in a statement. "The expansion helps to further establish Singapore as a key producer of fuels and petrochemical products, particularly products that help our customers improve fuel economy and reduce emissions."
The new plants expand on ExxonMobil's capability to provide a range of specialty products like synthetic rubber and adhesives to meet growing long-term demand in the Asia-Pacific. Market analysts said much of this demand is being fuelled by the growing middle class in the region.
Its complex here also includes a new power cogeneration unit at the refinery, bringing the total cogeneration capacity of the site to more than 440 megawatts. This will help reduce emissions and support more efficient use of energy.
"ExxonMobil's continued investments in Singapore underscore our efforts to be a competitive location for high-value chemicals manufacturing to serve fast-growing markets in Asia," Mr Chng Kai Fong, managing director of the Singapore Economic Development Board (EDB), said in a statement.
"Such investments are aligned with EDB's efforts to build a strong Singaporean core as workers will undergo upgrading to build new capabilities and take on high value-added jobs."