Royal Dutch Shell unveils Jurong Island projects

PHOTO: Royal Dutch Shell unveils Jurong Island projects

Energy giant Royal Dutch Shell unveiled several new investments for Jurong Island yesterday as it moves to ramp up petrochemical production.

They involve the building of new facilities on 35,000 sq m of land, about the size of seven football fields.

The facilities, which will be ready next year, include a high-purity ethylene oxide (HPEO) purification column with an initial capacity of 140,000 tonnes a year.

There will also be two world-scale ethoxylation units with a combined annual capacity of 140,000 tonnes. Associated facilities, such as product tanks and an HPEO pipeline grid, will also be built.

Shell did not disclose the investment amount, but industry experts have estimated this to be well into the hundreds of millions.

Mr Fang Yea Yee, Shell Chemicals general manager for ethylene oxide and glycols, said yesterday that the new investments will indirectly create high-level jobs as customers set up major operations here.

Mr Eugene Leong, Economic Development Board director of energy and chemicals, said: "When fully implemented, the various downstream speciality chemicals projects are expected to create close to 200 highly-skilled jobs."

Senior Minister for Trade and Industry Lee Yi Shyan said at a groundbreaking ceremony for the new facilities that more than 24,000 people are employed on Jurong Island, 75 per cent of them Singaporeans.

HPEO is processed into alcohol ethoxylates, a key ingredient for household and industrial detergents and cleaning products, including those used for laundry, dishwashing and personal care.

Mr Graham van't Hoff, Shell Chemicals executive vice-president, said alcohol ethoxylates demand in Asia is expected to increase at about 6 to 7 per cent annually over the next five years.

He added: "The key driver for this is the move by consumers from laundry powder and soap bars to liquid detergent and liquid soaps, especially in major markets like China, India and South-east Asia."

Shell said the new projects build on plans it unveiled over the past six months to expand production capacity.

These include increasing capacity at its ethylene cracker complex on Pulau Bukom to lift production of olefins and aromatics by more than 20 per cent - an initiative announced last November.

In February, Shell said it is expanding the capacity of its polyols plant on Jurong Island.

Mr van't Hoff said: "Asia is key to Shell's growth. Within the region, Singapore has, and will continue to feature considerably in our long-term plans."

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