DPM Heng Swee Keat at the Launch of the ExxonMobil-NTU-A*STAR Corporate Lab

DPM Heng Swee Keat | 26 April 2024

Speech by Deputy Prime Minister and Coordinating Minister for Economic Policies Heng Swee Keat at the launch of the ExxonMobil-NTU-A*STAR Corporate Lab on 26 April 2024.


Ms Goh Swee Chen, 
Chair of the NTU Board of Trustees,

Ms Geraldine Chin, 
Chair and MD of ExxonMobil Asia Pacific

Prof Lam Khin Yong, 
NTU Vice President

Dr. Nick Clausi, 
Vice President for Research, ExxonMobil Technology & Engineering

Mr Frederick Chew, 

Ladies and gentlemen

A very good morning to all of you.

I am happy to join you for the launch of the ExxonMobil – NTU – A*STAR Corporate Lab.

This is the first corporate lab launched by an energy major in Singapore, at a time of a very major transition that all of us must make, including the energy transition and other issues relating to climate change and sustainability.

Corporate labs play an important role in our research, innovation and enterprise landscape.

They bring public and industry researchers together to tackle shared challenges.

Companies can tap on the strengths of our Institutes of Higher Learning and Research Institutes to advance their innovation goals, while researchers can gain a better understanding of industry needs.

This strengthens the innovation ecosystem by catalysing the translation of research insights into market-ready technologies and solutions that solve real world challenges.

A successful energy transition to combat climate change is one of the critical challenges the world faces today.

It has not been easy to mobilise global action around this, even as some countries move ahead with their investments and efforts.

But as the scientific evidence and the lived experience of climate change – such as extreme weather events like droughts and floods – build up, there are positive signs of movement globally.

For example, at COP28 last year, countries agreed that there should be collective action to “transition away” from fossil fuels.

There is much to be done to achieve what we have committed.

Scientists estimate that global emissions must be cut by at least 43% by 2030 to meet our 1.5°C climate goal.

We must accelerate efforts to achieve the transition towards cleaner and greener energy, and towards addressing other climate change issues.

But many countries lack the resources and capabilities to pursue greener and more sustainable growth.

The energy transition, and sustainability more broadly, requires a fundamental transformation of economies and societies.

Affordable and reliable clean energy is needed to de-carbonise energy-intensive sectors like manufacturing and transportation.

Yet the infrastructure for clean energy, such as power grids and energy storage solutions, are not yet easily available, especially in developing countries.

Thankfully, there is a growing understanding that the energy transition requires a global compact and concerted effort across governments, businesses and citizens.

Singapore is committed to playing our part. We are a small, island city-state, with few options for alternative energy. Thankfully, our founding leaders have been committed to building a clean and green city since our independence.

We have also been seeking to turn challenges into opportunities.

As an island city-state, we can serve as a test bed for new solutions that may be useful to other cities and countries.

In our experience, there are at least two key elements to achieving sustainable development:

First, we must set out clear commitments and specific action plans; and

Second, we must catalyse partnerships and collaborations to advance a greener and more sustainable future.

Clear and ambitious commitments

On the first element, Singapore has announced our target of achieving net zero emissions by 2050.

To get there, we have set out strategies and targets through the Singapore Green Plan 2030.

These include growing the share of renewables in our power mix; greening our buildings and transport infrastructure; and reducing our consumption of energy and water.

Achieving these will require close partnership between the public and private sectors.

The Green Plan also sets out how we will green our economy. Transforming our industries will be a priority, particularly in the more carbon-intensive sectors like Energy and Chemicals.

Sustainability is also a horizontal across our 23 Industry Transformation Maps, which bring stakeholders of each industry – businesses, government agencies and trade associations – together to collaborate and prepare for the future.

This is supported by Government programmes and schemes to kickstart sustainability performance reporting and defray the costs of green solutions.

One of the key areas of transformation is Jurong Island, which is home to over 100 leading global companies in the Energy and Chemicals sector.

EDB has outlined plans to rally these companies towards the vision of a “Sustainable Jurong Island”.

By 2050, we target for the sector to quadruple its output of sustainable products, and achieve more than six million tonnes of carbon abatement per annum from low carbon solutions.

This presents us with the opportunity to set the global benchmark on how we can reduce emissions for carbon-intensive sectors.

Collaboration and partnerships

Having set out these plans, we must address how we can execute them.

Science and technology hold the key to new breakthroughs that can enable the green transition and enhance sustainability.

As part of our Research, Innovation and Enterprise (RIE) 2025 plans, we are investing in several areas, including in Urban Solutions and Sustainability, and the circular economy.

To achieve impact, we seek to bring partners to work together, both here and abroad.

Our Campus for Research Excellence and Technological Enterprise (CREATE) has been successful in fostering joint research and collaboration with renowned partner universities.

We will expand this partnership and invite the best researchers to join us in tackling the net zero transition.

Within Singapore, we encourage researchers in academia and industry to work together, and corporate labs are a useful platform for this.

EDB is also partnering the leading companies in the energy, petrochemical, and speciality chemicals sectors to execute our vision of a Sustainable Jurong Island.

Together, they will anchor the manufacturing of more sustainable products, deploy carbon capture solutions, increase the use of renewable energy, and improve industrial energy efficiency.

I thank ExxonMobil for leaning forward to play a leadership role.

ExxonMobil was a founding member of the Singapore Energy Consortium (SEC), which was jointly established by NTU and NUS in 2018 to address future energy challenges and find low-carbon energy pathways for Singapore and the region.

The SEC has successfully funded 12 core energy transition projects relating to carbon capture, usage and storage, as well as Hydrogen projects.

Together, ExxonMobil is bringing your commitment to the next level with the launch of this $60 million Corporate Lab.

Under this collaboration, ExxonMobil, NTU, and A*STAR will explore promising technologies, develop novel processes, and pioneer new business models. Dr Nick and Prof Lam have given a detailed explanation of the five priority areas.

Breakthroughs in these areas will not just support ExxonMobil’s operations, but can be applied more widely in the energy sector. These can then be scaled up to support the energy transition, both in Singapore and beyond.

This corporate lab will bring together more than 50individuals from ExxonMobil, NTU and A*STAR to collaborate on these projects. By including undergraduate and postgraduate students, we can also develop the pipeline of talent to support the energy transition and other areas of sustainability.

I am heartened that we are building on and expanding the strong and longstanding partnership between Singapore and ExxonMobil.

ExxonMobil has been growing its operations in Singapore for over 130 years.

Your integrated refining and petrochemical manufacturing complex in Singapore is one of the largest in the world.

The setting up of this corporate lab sends a strong signal of our shared commitment to tackle the energy transition and other sustainability challenges together.

I trust that ExxonMobil will make the best use of the research talent in our universities to deepen your research, innovation and enterprise expansion here, as you make this major energy transition. And I trust that NTU and A*STAR will also take this opportunity to learn more about the work of ExxonMobil in its corporate labs in the US, and expand this collaboration for our mutual benefit, and to benefit the world.

In closing, let us all commit to building a greener and more sustainable future together.

My warmest congratulations once again to NTU, A*STAR and ExxonMobil on the launch of this Corporate Lab.

I look forward to the innovations and breakthroughs that you will achieve through this collaborative partnership, to support global climate action and enable the green transition. Thank You!