Support for industries investing in tech for low-carbon future

Trade and Industry Minister Chan Chun Sing being briefed by ExxonMobil engineer Ramkiran Mattupalli at the opening ceremony of the energy giant's butyl rubber and resins plants on Jurong Island yesterday. One of the plants will produce premium halobu
Trade and Industry Minister Chan Chun Sing being briefed by ExxonMobil engineer Ramkiran Mattupalli at the opening ceremony of the energy giant's butyl rubber and resins plants on Jurong Island yesterday. One of the plants will produce premium halobutyl rubber - a substance used by tyre manufacturers to maintain tyre inflation.ST PHOTO: NG SOR LUAN
ExxonMobil Chemical Company president Karen McKee noted the energy giant's "aggressive growth plan".
ExxonMobil Chemical Company president Karen McKee noted the energy giant's "aggressive growth plan".

S'pore to work with firms to stay competitive through strong connectivity, IP regime: Chan

Singapore will work with its industries as it moves to meet standards of a low-carbon future while remaining competitive with its strong connectivity and intellectual property regime, said Trade and Industry Minister Chan Chun Sing yesterday.

Describing the need to constrain emissions as "a new mountain to climb", he noted the importance of working with companies, such as energy giant ExxonMobil, that invest in technology for more sustainable products.

"Today, the world is much more competitive for the next investor dollar," said Mr Chan at the official opening of ExxonMobil's butyl rubber and resin plants on Jurong Island. "Our job is to make sure that we continue to provide that progressive environment, not just in... the kind of relationship that we have (with companies), but also in the kind of rules that we can have."

Such rules include a strong intellectual property regime, as well as regulations allowing companies to have data-enabled technologies.

ExxonMobil's new plants are part of a multibillion dollar expansion project, and its products go some way in reducing emissions.

The plants also add 140 jobs - such as engineers and technicians - to its workforce of over 4,000 in Singapore. Another 100 logistics jobs were created at its packaging and warehouse facility on site, run by a Singapore-based company.

The energy giant's regional growth plans include increasing the number of such facilities, said Ms Karen McKee, president of ExxonMobil Chemical Company, who noted rising demand for synthetic rubber and adhesives.

About half of the world's economic growth between now and 2040 will occur in Asia, she added.

  • 140

  • Number of jobs - such as engineers and technicians - the butyl rubber and resin plants will add to ExxonMobil's workforce of more than 4,000 in Singapore. Another 100 logistics jobs were created at its packaging and warehouse facility on site, run by a Singapore-based company.

Global demand for the chemical industry has doubled since 2000 as well, and this is expected to grow about 4 per cent annually for the next 20 to 30 years, faster than overall energy demand growth.

"Singapore is a critical component of that story, not only as an energy and manufacturing hub, but also as a centre for technology and for skills development," she said.

As a result of dynamics in the region, ExxonMobil has embarked on an "aggressive growth plan" to double its earnings by 2025, she added, pointing to the two new plants as key moves.

One of the new plants produces up to 90,000 tonnes of Escorez hydrogenated hydrocarbon resins a year. Having started operations in December 2017, it aims to meet long-term demand growth for hot-melt adhesives used in packaging and diapers.

The second plant, expected to start commercial production in the second half of the year, produces up to 140,000 tonnes of premium halobutyl rubber a year - a substance used by tyre manufacturers to maintain tyre inflation.

Keeping tyres properly inflated can help save about a billion gallons of fuel, reducing carbon dioxide emissions by eight million tonnes a year, said ExxonMobil, which invests about $1 billion annually in research and development worldwide.

The plants use new technologies in their warehouse as well, such as a robotic arm that can pack a 34kg butyl bale every seven seconds, as well as driverless forklifts.

Yesterday's launch follows a series of expansion announcements, with ExxonMobil saying on Tuesday that it will take on another multibillion-dollar project to grow its Jurong Island integrated manufacturing complex.

This will raise its output of cleaner fuel amid more stringent environmental rules for the shipping industry from next year - a shift that shipping and oil refining industries have been scrambling to prepare for.

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on April 06, 2019, with the headline 'Support for industries investing in tech for low-carbon future'. Print Edition | Subscribe