SM Teo Chee Hean at the Virtual Foundation Laying Ceremony of ExxonMobil's Chemical and Refining Integrated Singapore Project on 31 March 2020.
“Investment in Our Partnership for the Future”
I am pleased to mark the foundation laying of ExxonMobil’s Chemical and Refining Integrated Singapore Project today.
This foundation laying is taking place in an exceptional time. The COVID-19 outbreak has become a global pandemic, precipitating an unprecedented global crisis. Countries all over the world have implemented drastic and unprecedented measures to contain the spread of the virus and keep our people safe. Here in Singapore, we have introduced tighter measures to protect Singaporeans and reduce our risks, including stricter safe distancing guidelines and cancelling all events and mass gatherings. As a result, we had to change our original plan today for a physical foundation laying ceremony. I am glad that ExxonMobil has thought out of the box and arranged for a virtual ceremony, taking place over a video conference from three locations – two in Singapore and one in Dallas.
A Special Partnership
Our special ceremony today, taking place in a special time, marks another important milestone in the longstanding and special partnership between Singapore and ExxonMobil. Our partnership goes back 127 years, when ExxonMobil’s predecessor, Vacuum Oil Company, started selling kerosene and lubricants in Singapore in 1893. In 1966, one year after our independence, ExxonMobil opened its first refinery in Singapore. Since then, ExxonMobil’s refining capacity has increased by more than 30 times to almost 600,000 barrels per day today. ExxonMobil is now one of Singapore’s largest foreign investors with over S$25 billion in fixed asset investments, including its largest integrated refining and petrochemical facility in the world.
ExxonMobil’s latest multi-billion dollar investment in Singapore will create 135 new, good jobs, with significant spin-offs to the rest of the economy in areas such as logistics, process construction and maintenance. Amidst a challenging outlook in the global economy and energy industry, this is a clear indication of ExxonMobil’s continued commitment to and confidence in Singapore, as its choice partner and manufacturing hub for the region. Through the use of new, proprietary catalyst and process technologies, the Chemical and Refining Integrated Singapore Project will upgrade ExxonMobil’s product slate and increase its capacity to produce high performance lubricant base stocks and cleaner fuels with lower-sulphur content by 48,000 barrels per day. This far-sighted project is not just an expansion or upgrading of ExxonMobil’s operations in Singapore, but an investment in our partnership for the future.
This investment will also provide a new boost to Singapore’s Energy & Chemicals sector, which has been an important and longstanding pillar of the Singapore economy. The sector employs 25,000 workers, with some of the highest paying jobs in the manufacturing sector with good career prospects. In 2019, our Energy & Chemicals sector contributed 2.3% of our GDP and 10.8% of our manufacturing. We have developed an integrated energy and chemicals value chain, including refining, olefins production, chemicals manufacturing, as well as innovation and research. Our Energy & Chemicals sector does not just produce for Singapore, but to meet the needs of the global market. We are a major exporter of petrochemicals and petroleum products.
Continued Partnership for the Future
Over the years, companies in our Energy & Chemicals sector, like ExxonMobil, have worked with the government to move up the value chain and capture new business opportunities, such as in high-value derivatives and specialty chemicals. We have also worked together to overcome several economic crises and challenges to the industry.
Today, even as we work together to deal with the current crisis, the Government remains committed to working with our Energy & Chemicals sector to remain competitive in the long term. We will continue to invest in R&D and work with our companies to adopt advanced manufacturing technologies, so as to improve their productivity, build new capabilities, and accelerate innovation. We will help our workers to safeguard their livelihoods and continuously upgrade their skills. We will also work with all our companies to keep them at the forefront of the global move towards environmentally sustainable production. In doing so, we will ensure that our companies can serve the world’s needs with the best-in-class facilities here in Singapore, and are well-positioned to seize new opportunities when the global economy and energy industry recover.
Congratulations to ExxonMobil on your new milestone project. Singapore is happy to have been able to count on ExxonMobil as a reliable partner for more than 12 decades. We are confident that our partnership can only strengthen in the decades to come. I wish ExxonMobil and your operations in Singapore every success, and look forward to the Chemical and Refining Integrated Singapore Project coming online in the near future.
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