Opening remarks by Senior Minister and Coordinating Minister for National Security Teo Chee Hean at the Inauguration of Total's Regional Headquarters on 9 December 2019.
“Partnership for an Innovative Energy Sector and Low Carbon Future”
Your Excellency Marc Abensour,
Ambassador of France to Singapore
Ms Namita Shah,
President, People & Social Responsibility for Total
Mr Christian Cabrol,
President and CEO, Total Oil Asia Pacific, and Total Country Chair Singapore
Ladies and gentlemen,
I am happy to be here with you this morning for the inauguration of Total’s regional headquarters in Singapore.
A Strong Partnership
Total and Singapore have enjoyed a strong partnership for 37 years. In 1982, the company established its presence in Singapore with its oil trading, sales and marketing operations for lubricant products. Since then, Total has steadily expanded its Singapore operations. Today, Singapore is Total’s strategic hub in the Asia Pacific, and is pivotal in driving business growth and innovation as well as talent development in Singapore and Asia Pacific. In 2015, I had the pleasure of opening Total’s new lubricants blending plant at Singapore Lube Park in Tuas, which is also Total’s largest lubricants blending plant in the world. The plant doubled Total’s lubricant production in Singapore and boosted regional capacity by 30%.
Today, we mark yet another milestone of Total’s partnership with Singapore – the opening of Total’s regional headquarters (HQ) here at Frasers Tower. The new premises occupies six floors with more than 125,000 square feet – an increase of 65% from its old premises. Total now has more than 600 employees in Singapore, with 500 employees in this regional HQ and around 130 employees at the Tuas lubricant plant. This opening is a testament to Total’s significant growth in Singapore and its commitment to our partnership.
Towards Energy Efficiency and Low Carbon Growth
The Energy and Chemicals sector is a key pillar of Singapore’s economy, contributing 3.5% of our GDP in 2018. The sector employs over 25,000 people, and provides some of the highest paying jobs in the manufacturing sector. Singapore is positioning our Energy and Chemicals sector for the future. We fully recognise that the future world is one which will be built on energy efficiency and low carbon growth. Low carbon and renewable energy will be key energy sources globally, and Singapore is a first mover who has moved decisively in that direction.
In the 1990s, Singapore took early action to move from our then oil-fired power plants to natural gas for power production. This reduced greenhouse gas and other pollutive emissions, such as sulphur and particulates. This was a major decision. It came at some cost to our households and businesses in the form of higher electricity prices. We worried about the impact on our economic competitiveness compared to competitor economies who used coal, and who continue to do so, to generate electricity at significantly lower cost. However, we made this move to derive greater benefits in the medium to longer term. Singapore is now a cleaner, greener and more environmentally sustainable city-state, which is a good place to live in and to grow your businesses. Today, more than 95% of our electricity supply comes from natural gas, including liquefied natural gas (LNG). The rest comes from waste-to-energy plants and renewables. We will continue to diversify our sources and improve the technology we use to generate power from LNG.
Singapore will continue to anchor ourselves as an LNG trading hub. This provides Singapore with diversity and resilience in our energy supply without being overly reliant on piped-natural gas.
We have also built up the storage and handling capacity at our current LNG terminal, and are exploring the potential for a second LNG terminal. This will allow Singapore to go beyond catering to domestic needs, to cater to LNG demand in Asia and other parts of the world. Many countries that are constrained by their geography, their size or other factors in deploying renewables have been switching to gas as an important part of their future energy needs. LNG demand and growth is expected to remain strong in the near to medium term, and Singapore is strengthening our ecosystem of LNG-related services to cater to this.
We are also one of the first movers in providing LNG as an alternative to High Sulphur Fuel Oil for bunkering fuel for ships, to meet the International Maritime Organisation (IMO)’s regulation to reduce the global Sulphur limit for marine fuel from the current 3.5% to 0.5% from January 2020. That is just less than a month away. I am not sure if the pin has completely dropped, but when ships and shipping companies move, I think there will be a big impact. To date, Singapore has supplied LNG to 170 vessels using tanker trucks. With our first LNG bunker vessel slated for arrival in the third quarter of 2020, we will be able to cater to large vessels that require LNG as a marine fuel. I am glad that Total, the second largest LNG producer in the world, will be leveraging the Singapore regional headquarters to manage its LNG business in the region. Recent examples are Total’s partnership with Singapore’s Pavillion Energy to build up the LNG bunkering eco-system, and with the Adani Group to supply and market LNG in India.
Our Push for Renewables
While natural gas remains a key component of our energy mix, Singapore will also be making a major effort to deploy more renewable energy. Singapore recently announced an ambitious target to deploy 2 Gigawatt peak of solar energy by the year 2030. That will be about 10% of Singapore’s peak daily electricity demand today. We will also support energy companies that are moving into renewables, by streamlining our regulations and promoting innovation and research & development (R&D). I am happy that companies like Total are joining us in this effort. For example, through solarizing your Tuas lubricant plant, Total has been able to meet 35% of the site’s energy needs through solar energy, and avoid up to 528 metric tonnes of carbon dioxide emissions a year. Every tonne helps.
Total has also made Singapore the hub for its renewable energy business in Asia. Through Total Solar DG Southeast Asia, a wholly owned affiliate of Total Solar Distributed Generation, the Group is one of the major international providers of fully integrated solar solutions for commercial and industrial customers in Southeast Asia.
Developing Our People
Besides collaborating in innovation, our people also play a key role in maintaining the competitiveness of our Energy and Chemicals sector. Over the years, the Energy and Chemicals sector has created a diverse range of jobs, in areas like business, research and engineering, which cater to different aspirations and strengths of our people.
We are committed to working with the industry to ensure a steady supply of capable and well-trained people for this high value-added sector. For example, EDB has been working with companies on the adoption of advanced manufacturing technologies to drive greater energy efficiency and to reduce carbon emissions. We are also working with companies to create more training and internship opportunities, and helping our workers to continuously upgrade their skills through the SkillsFuture Earn and Learn Programme for the Energy and Chemicals sector.
I am happy that Total has been playing its part in uplifting our workers. Total’s new premises are part of your “One Total, Better Together” initiative, to operate and create new development opportunities for Total’s employees. Total has sent its Singapore employees to its overseas offices in Paris and Africa to increase their international exposure and improve their career opportunities. We hope to see more Singaporeans taking up leadership positions in Total, both here in Singapore and in its global operations.
Earlier this year, Hutchinson SA, a subsidiary of Total, set up a “Digital Research Lab for Asia” which will have more than 10 data scientists and Internet Of Things (IOT) engineers working on deploying innovative rubber and thermoplastics based product solutions for the automotive and aerospace industries. I think there is scope for Total and our research agencies in Singapore to work on other areas – we have some strengths for example in vibration; maintenance; engineering and solutions; nanotechnology; and materials, especially 2D materials. I think there will be some scope in working together in these areas.
Finally, congratulations once again to Total on the opening of your regional HQ. This signifies Total’s confidence in Singapore as a strategic hub for your operations in the region. I hope that your significant presence in Singapore will open more doors to explore further advances for growth in business, innovation and R&D to build an innovative and sustainable energy sector, and contribute new solutions to global climate action together.
So congratulations once again, thank you very much.
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