Mega growth trends like rapid urbanisation, changing demographics and the rise of the Asian middle-class are shifting the need for products and services to Asia. With greater demand for transportation fuel, as well as petrochemical and specialty chemical products, the Asia growth story creates a window of opportunity.
As one of the world’s leading energy and chemical industry hubs, Singapore’s contribution to the industry is vast, both in terms of output and research, and the Republic is constantly working to stay at the forefront of the industry’s advancement. In 2010, the chemicals and chemical products sector contributed S$38 billion of the manufacturing output, a significant rise from S$28 billion in 2009.
Singapore’s position as a global chemicals hub has grown in tandem with the extensive development of Jurong Island — an integrated complex housing many of the world’s leading energy and chemical companies, among them BASF, ExxonMobil, Lanxess, Mitsui Chemicals, Shell and Sumitomo Chemicals. Presently, Jurong Island has successfully attracted investments in excess of S$35 billion.
Proprietary manufacturing processes are key to the competitiveness of energy and chemical companies along the entire value chain. Given the nation’s strong track record for intellectual property rights protection, Singapore is ideal for companies seeking to develop and commercialise proprietary technologies and first-class manufacturing processes. Jurong Island is also a secured manufacturing location that places a priority on safety and security. Additionally, Singapore has invested heavily, and will continue to do so, in R&D infrastructure and seeks to work with the industry to create new beginnings in the country
Located on Jurong Island, the Institute of Chemical and Engineering Sciences (ICES) is an autonomous national research institute under A*STAR (Agency for Science, Technology and Research). It was created to undertake a diverse range of activities from exploratory research to process development, optimisation and problem solving as well as the running of pilot-scale projects. With a focus on providing highly trained R&D manpower, establishing a strong science base and developing technology and infrastructure, ICES is well-positioned to support energy and chemical companies as they develop new products and processes from Singapore. Together with public research institutes such as ICES, Singapore is host to a number of private sector research centres by Chemical companies like 3M, Bayer and BASF.
Leveraging on the country’s strengths as a leading market player in other areas such as marine and offshore engineering, water treatment and lubricants, Singapore is well-positioned to further expand the chemical industry by focusing on high value-added specialty chemicals that serve these sectors. Additionally, specialty chemicals companies can leverage the close proximity from Singapore to their customers and the end-consumer, and respond with agility to the emerging needs of Asian consumers by innovating new applications.
Talent is a key enabler for this complex and dynamic industry, for which Singapore’s distinguished academic establishments graduate a well-trained pool of engineering and management talent as well as skilled technicians annually. To further prepare the engineering graduates entering the industry every year, the government invested in a live kerosene splitter on Jurong Island. This facility within the Chemical Process Technology Centre (CPTC) provides graduates the invaluable opportunity to simulate start-up, shut-down, and safety procedures.
In addition to a well-trained, home grown workforce, Singapore’s attractive central location and liveability allows companies to attract experienced talent from all over the world. The strong local talent base, complemented by diverse international talent both contribute a world-class workforce, which companies can hire from to quickly ramp up their operations and drive growth in Asia.
As Singapore positions itself for the next phase of growth in its energy and chemical industry, the Republic aims to be a model of sustainable development. To address climate change concerns and global resource constraints, Singapore is taking the lead in terms of raising the bar in energy efficiency, emissions management as well as accelerating the development of new, sustainable feedstock and technologies in partnership with industry through the Jurong Island version 2.0 initiative. A number of high impact projects, to ensure Jurong Island’s continued attractiveness as an integrated manufacturing location will be implemented over the next few years. These include key infrastructure such as a gasification plant, a LPG terminal and a multi-user product grid. Recognising the importance to companies of plant-level sustainability efforts, which reduce a plant’s carbon footprint, the city also actively supports companies to encourage adoption of energy efficiency improvement projects.
The city continues to receive glowing reviews year after year for its infrastructure, manpower capabilities, as well as ease of doing business. For companies seeking a location from which to connect to their customers and manage their operating entities in Asia, Singapore’s strategic location and physical connectivity means that companies can oversee their activities in this fast-growing region.
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