Saturday, August 10, 2019

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Wednesday, July 2, 2014

SINGAPORE: Afton Chemical starts building chemical additive plant on Jurong Island

(EnergyAsia, July 3 2014, Thursday) — US-based Afton Chemical Corporation has started construction of a new chemical additives manufacturing facility on Singapore's Jurong Island.

The plant is expected to start up in January 2016 to add to the Richmond, Virginia company's global supply network of additives to meet growing demand in the Asia-Pacific and Middle East markets.

To support Afton's engine oil business, the plant will begin producing detergents for commercial use in 2016. Construction and startup of additional units to produce dispersants and anti-wear components will follow with full operation expected by 2019.

Afton said it will review opportunities to expand the plant based on future market conditions.

Afton said it selected the site after an extensive analysis based on local infrastructure, market access, economics, safety and logistics. Foster Wheeler Singapore will manage the engineering and construction.

"In recent years, we've intensified our focus on this important region, and our strategy to meet its needs. Since 2008, we've opened two new sales offices, four local warehouses, and expanded our R&D facilities. We'll continue to explore opportunities to better serve the region," said Damian Barnes, Afton's supply vice president.

"Afton Chemical has been a key player in the lubricant and fuel additive industry for more than 90 years. We have a strong commitment to Asia's fast-growing economy, and this plant means we can improve service levels to all of our customers in the region and security of supply to all customers worldwide," " said Rob Shama, Afton's President.

Afton Chemical Corp, a subsidiary of the NewMarket Corp, develops and manufactures petroleum additives that help fuels burn cleaner and more efficiently, engines run smoother, and machines last longer.

 




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Tuesday, June 3, 2014

ASIA: China leads region in power grid modernisation and efficiency improvement plans, says GlobalData

(EnergyAsia, May 8 2014, Thursday) — Led by China, Asia is investing heavily to modernise its power grid while deploying smart grid technology and improving the efficiency of power distribution systems across the region, according to a new report by consultant GlobalData.

The region's economies have bounced back strongly from the global recession of 2007-08, with energy demand surging to new highs, forcing governments across the region to invest in new technology, and transmission and distribution (T&D) infrastructure to increase the efficiency of their power distribution systems.

GlobalData said China's utilisation of ultra-high-voltage (UHV) transmission, along with its increasing UHV technology adoption and growing focus on renewable energy sources, is playing a key role in developing robust T&D infrastructure in the country.

"China decided to invest in UHV transmission in 2004 due to the distant location of energy resource sites from its southern and eastern load centers. This technology was a logical choice for keeping the country's T&D losses low over such long distances," said the company's senior analyst, Siddhartha Raina.
China's fourth largest UHV project, a 1,000 kilovolt alternating current transmission project, which starts from Anhui province and extends to East China, started up on September 25 last year.

According to GlobalData, these projects are part of the State Grid Corporation of China's (SGCC) plan to invest US$75.5 billion to construct UHV power transmission lines by 2015. Both the SGCC and China Southern Power Grid Company are rapidly utilising the UHV transmission lines to expand the country's grid system. The creation of an integrated synchronous national grid will facilitate the efficient transfer of electricity to meet the nation's growing power demand.

"The focus of the Chinese government clearly lies on grid modernisation and improving efficiency. The government set a target to interconnect its existing grids and form an integrated synchronous national grid by the end of 2020. This will help to facilitate the efficient transfer of electricity in order to meet growing power demands, as well as demands from the renewable energy sector," said Mr Raina.

 




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SINGAPORE: PacificLight Power starts up S$1.2 billion power plant on Jurong Island

(EnergyAsia, June 4 2014, Wednesday) — PacificLight Power Pte Ltd, a company jointly owned by Filipino and Malaysian interests, has started up the first power plant in Singapore to be fired entirely by liquefied natural gas (LNG).

PacificLight Power, which is 70% owned by Manila-based FPM Power Holdings Ltd, invested S$1.2 billion in the state-of-the-art 800MW plant on a 11.3-hectare site on Jurong Island. (US$1=S$1.25). Petronas Power, a subsidiary of Malaysia's state energy firm Petronas, owns the remaining 30% stake.

The company said the plant accounts for 6.2% of the nation's installed power capacity and is capable of ramping up to operating capacity in 60 minutes, making it one of the most efficient and flexible power plants in Asia.  Its use of LNG will contribute to Singapore's plan to diversify its energy sources as well as decrease the nation's reliance on piped natural gas from Malaysia and Indonesia.

The plant, which was completed early this year, features the latest energy-efficiency F-class gas turbines from Siemens, which PacificLight says are designed to meet stringent international emissions standards.

A consortium comprising Germany's Siemens AG, Singapore-based Siemens Pte Ltd, and South Korea's Samsung C&T started work on the plant in 2011 shortly after it was awarded the engineering, procurement and construction contract for the project.

Chee Hong Tat, chief executive of Singapore's Energy Market Authority, officiated at the plant's opening ceremony yesterday that was attended by government officials, shareholders, industry representatives and business partners.

Yu Tat Ming, CEO of PacificLight Power, said:

"The launch of the plant is a momentous occasion for our organisation. This has been made possible due to the support received from the government agencies, our contractors, shareholders, customers, lenders and most importantly, our unwavering and dedicated team of staff. With our state-of-the-art power plant in place, we are committed to become the preferred energy solution provider in Singapore, offering tailored energy solutions and excellent customer service to our customers."

First Pacific managing director and CEO, Manuel V. Pangilinan, said:

"Today is a significant day for investors. We expect steady and growing demand for electricity in the coming years and PacificLight Power will be key to meeting that demand."

FPM Power Holdings Ltd is a 60:40 joint venture between two companies, First Pacific Company Ltd and MERALCO PowerGen Corp. First Pacific Company Ltd is a Hong Kong-based investment management and Holding Company with operations located across Asia while Meralco PowerGen Corp (MGen) is a wholly-owned subsidiary and the power generation arm of the Manila Electric Company (Meralco), the largest privately-owned distribution utility in the Philippines.

Pramod Kumar Karunakaran, Petronas's Vice President for Infrastructure & Utilities, Downstream Business, said:

"Petronas is pleased to see the successful completion of the state-of-the-art operating facility, which delivers clean energy to its customers. The project has enabled Petronas to build upon its existing capabilities and establish its presence in Singapore's merchant market."

 




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Wednesday, March 12, 2014

SINGAPORE: Futures trading, solar energy to increase competition in electricity market

(EnergyAsia, March 12 2014, Wednesday) — Futures trading and solar energy will debut on the Singapore electricity markets later this year as part of a plan to increase price and supply competition.

Following a six-month trial starting April, the Singapore Exchange (SGX) will aim to launch its electricity futures contract that will allow consumers to lock in their power purchases and prices for up to two years, said the exchange's commodities director Matthias Obert.

He said the contract will allow consumers to take a longer term position of their electricity purchases to cancel out short-term fluctuations in spot market prices.

"Electricity can be bought on the market, but prices are uncertain and very volatile. These can be balanced out by purchases of futures contracts," said Mr Obert at last month's Seraya Energy forum.

Singapore's electricity prices have become more volatile on account of weather conditions and geopolitical events that cause fuel oil prices to move sharply.

Consumers will be further empowered by the government's move to allow smaller retail consumers choose their suppliers as well as admit the use of solar-generated electricity.

Speaking in Parliament, Second Trade and Industry Minister S. Iswaran announced that those who use at least eight megawatt-hours (MWH) of electricity per month will be allowed to choose their supplier from April 1, a market privilege now opened only to those who consume at least 10MWH. From October 1, that bar will be lowered to those whose electricity consumption exceeds 4MWH.

Mr Iswaran said at least 15,000 consumers will benefit from this change, while power producers will gain as they will be able to group demand from various locations to meet the lower threshold of this new contestable market.

To lighten dependence on fossil fuels, the government will step up its campaign to develop the production and use of renewable energy, especially solar power, in government buildings and state land.

It has set a target for Singapore's solar power capacity to reach 350 megawatt-peak (MWp) by 2020, up from 15 MWp now. The new capacity will be sufficient to meet about five percent of the country's peak electricity demand in 2020.

"Among the various renewable energy options, solar has the greatest potential for wider deployment in Singapore," he said.

 




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Thursday, February 27, 2014

SINGAPORE: Selected comments by Trade Minister S. Iswaran on developments in the LNG markets

(EnergyAsia, February 27 2014, Thursday) — The following are excerpts presented this week by Singapore's Trade and Industry Minister S. Iswaran on developments in the LNG markets. He spoke at the 9th edition of the LNG Supplies for Asian Markets (LNGA) Conference.

"On the supply-side, a tight market is anticipated in the next two years or so. However, this is expected to ease with new LNG supplies entering the market after 2015, coming from Australia, North America, and East Africa.

Over the long term, the International Energy Agency projects that global demand for natural gas in 2035 could be 50% more than 2010 demand. This represents annualised growth of 1.6% over the next two decades.  LNG demand growth is expected to be stronger, at around five percent per year through 2020. In particular, Asia has become the world's largest importing region, and its appetite for gas continues to grow in tandem with its economic development.

Against this backdrop, it is timely to discuss today's conference theme "Rising demand for LNG vs consumer price resistance: can there be a compromise?"

Historically, Asia's LNG contracts have predominantly been long-term contracts indexed to oil prices.  This has meant that Asian gas buyers are affected by movements in oil prices, even when the fundamentals of the gas market remain unchanged.  This is in contrast to the more liquid regional markets in North America and Europe, where buyers have access to gas-on-gas pricing.

With LNG playing a larger role in Asia's energy mix, Asian countries are pressing for more competitive LNG prices.  To this end, Asian buyers are contemplating and beginning to employ strategies such as buying gas as a bloc and investing upstream.  Some Asian countries are also seeking to develop an Asian trading hub to facilitate price discovery, and developing financial instruments such as LNG futures contracts to manage risk.

As Asia's demand grows and countries take concrete steps to develop the marketplace, I believe a competitive and more liquid gas market, so to speak, will emerge in Asia.  This will ensure long-term sustainable growth for the Asian gas market, to the benefit of both sellers and buyers.

Singapore
We have also put in place a comprehensive strategy to grow our gas market and support gas-related businesses in Singapore.

Singapore will introduce a Competitive Licensing Framework (CLF) to appoint new LNG importers to meet our domestic gas needs, beyond the first tranche of 3 million tonnes per annum (Mtpa) awarded to BG.

Under the CLF, Singapore will award LNG import licences on a tranche-by-tranche basis to meet our growing demand.  This will allow us to respond flexibly to changing domestic needs, opportunities arising from global market trends, and the emergence of new suppliers.

Last December, the Energy Market Authority, or EMA, released its draft determination paper on this new import framework.  EMA has received feedback from almost 30 companies.  Overall, industry players support the proposed CLF.  Potential suppliers have also continued to express strong interest in the opportunity to supply LNG to Singapore.

EMA will release its final determination paper for the post-3 Mtpa LNG Import Framework shortly by the end of this week.

Taking into consideration industry feedback, EMA will launch a Request-for-Proposals (RFP) process in the second quarter of 2014 to invite companies to submit proposals to supply Singapore's next tranche of LNG.  The RFP will allow us to appoint LNG importers who can provide competitively-priced and secure LNG supplies.  It will be a two-stage process, to ensure that there is sufficient time for potential suppliers to first finalise and submit their proposals, and then to negotiate with gas buyers to aggregate demand.

In the first stage, EMA will seek proposals that demonstrate supply security and price-competitiveness for the imported LNG.  Beyond the price formula, EMA will study other factors such as mechanisms to manage price volatility, price indexation diversity, and flexibility in contract terms, in evaluating the proposals.  EMA expects to shortlist up to three potential suppliers for the second stage of the RFP process.

In the second stage, shortlisted parties will be required to negotiate with potential buyers to secure binding commitments for LNG purchases.  These shortlisted parties will then be evaluated on their ability to successfully aggregate buyers' demand, and the attractiveness of their baseline gas sales agreement (GSA) for future buyers.

Ultimately, depending on the quality of the proposals and the strength of the demand, EMA will appoint up to two importers. Each appointed importer will have an exclusive franchise of 3 years, or until it has contracted up to 1 Mtpa of LNG, whichever comes sooner.

To complement the CLF, a new Spot Import Policy will be introduced to regulate spot import for domestic use.  Under the policy, domestic gas buyers will be allocated annual spot credits, as a percentage of their long-term gas import volumes.  These credits will have a validity period of one year, and will be tradable.
EMA proposes to start with a spot import cap of 10 per cent.  This is to strike a balance between the objectives of according buyers greater flexibility while allowing Singapore's nascent LNG market to develop and stabilise over the next few years.  EMA will review this cap as the market develops and gains more experience.

More than 20 companies have already established or expanded their LNG desks in Singapore, with activities ranging from market research, trading, marketing, origination, operations and risk management functions.  In addition, there are LNG service firms such as shipbrokers, law firms and price reporting agencies growing their operations here to support the LNG industry.

We hope to see more market players establish a presence in Singapore.  This will not only support the growth of the domestic gas market, but will also allow Singapore to contribute to efforts to build deeper regional gas markets by serving as a trading and pricing hub for LNG.

 




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Tuesday, January 28, 2014

Cool weather, competition lower electricity prices

Opening of new plants drove wholesale power prices down in Dec

 

A COMBINATION of cool weather and stiffening market competition, due to the start-up of new generating plants, has driven electricity prices here lower.

 

Energy Market Company CEO Dave Carlson said in its just-released bulletin that "towards the end of the year, Singapore typically sees cooler weather brought about by the north-east monsoon. In line with this, forecast demand dropped and the Uniform Singapore Energy Price in the wholesale electricity market reached a new monthly low for the year of $147 per megawatt/hour in December."

 

This follows the lower monthly wholesale electricity prices - of below $160/MWh - recorded by the wholesale market operator in October and November.

 

The year-end "cooling-off" was a marked contrast to the mid-year wholesale electricity price highs of around $200/MWh in June and August, when electricity demand soared as a result of the haze (in June) and scorching weather.

 

New genco PacificLight Power CEO Yu Tat Ming told The Business Times that based on the genco's own estimates, electricity demand grew about 3.3 per cent year-on-year last month.

 

"While the weather played a part in helping to cool electricity demand in December, it was competition from new plants that in fact drove wholesale electricity prices down," he said.

 

This downtrend looks set to continue, given this month's persistent "springy" temperatures here, with lows of 23/24 degrees celcius.

 

While electricity demand continues to grow this month - by about 2.3 per cent year-on-year in the first 21 days, estimates PacificLight - this will likely be affected "as the coming Chinese New Year will typically see most firms scaling back a week or so before the festivities, especially when their Malaysian workers head home," noted Mr Yu.

 

EMC recently indicated that the addition of more gas-fired generating units - including PacificLight's new 800MW station and those of Tuas Power and Keppel Merlimau Cogen - has raised Singapore's total gas-fired capacity to more than 9,000MW, or way above peak electricity demand here of around 6,600MW.

 

This follows the lower monthly wholesale electricity prices - of below $160/MWh - recorded by the wholesale market operator in October and November  




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Thursday, January 9, 2014

SINGAPORE: ExxonMobil officially starts up plant that converts crude oil into petrochemicals

 

(EnergyAsia, January 9 2014, Thursday) — ExxonMobil has officially started up what is claimed to be the world's first plant to convert crude oil directly into petrochemicals, bypassing the intermediary oil products stage, that will enable the Singapore plant to compete against Middle Eastern rivals who have the advantage of cheap feedstock.

The Singapore plant on Jurong Island, which now accounts for about one-quarter of ExxonMobil's global chemical capacity, incorporates more than 40 new proprietary technologies, making it one of the company's most energy efficient and flexible sites.

The US major said the new ethylene steam cracker can process a wide range of feedstock, from light gases to crude oil, to produce an expanded slate of premium and commodity petrochemicals. Existing petrochemical plants do not have this capability and are restricted to using finished refined oil products like naphtha and liquefied petroleum gas (LPG) as raw materials. Faced with surplus global capacity, the petrochemical industry is in the midst of a shakeout with many unable to compete against the giant plants in the Middle East who have access to cheap supply of feedstock.

ExxonMobil's Singapore complex includes the one million tonne per year (t/y) cracker and plants to produce a total of at least 1.4 million t/y of polymers and elastomers. The cracker, estimated to cost at least US$5 billion, began operating last May after a delay of nearly two years and cost over-runs purportedly to satisfy safety standards and checks during construction.

With the project's start-up, ExxonMobil has pushed its total investment in Singapore past US$10 billion.

Speaking at the plant's opening this week, Singapore's Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong said the government will continue to support the growth of the country's energy and chemicals industry, which accounts for a third of the national manufacturing output.

Rex W. Tillerson, Exxon Mobil Corp chairman and CEO, who was also at the plant's opening, said:

"Global chemical demand will grow at a faster pace than GDP as people seek higher standards of living and purchase more household and packaged goods manufactured with chemical products.

"Two-thirds of that growth in chemical demand will be here in the Asia-Pacific region. ExxonMobil's expanded Singapore chemical plant is uniquely positioned to serve these growth markets, from China to the Indian subcontinent and beyond."

Mr Tillerson said the foundation for the advancements at the Singapore complex were established decades ago and strengthened through the company's relationships with and respect for the people and nation of Singapore.

"Government leaders here wisely pursued a stable policy course that encouraged international investment, teamwork and advanced technologies," he said.
Leo Yip, chairman of the Singapore Economic Development Board, said the expanded plant enhances the country's leadership position as Asia's energy and chemicals hub.

"This latest investment – the single largest manufacturing investment in Singapore's history – is testament to our ability to successfully attract and execute complex mega-projects. The expansion of ExxonMobil's chemical plant will create meaningful and exciting career opportunities for Singaporeans and also enable Singapore to broaden our chemicals industry with higher-value downstream chemical facilities," he said.

Png Cheong Boon, CEO of JTC Corp, the builder and landlord of Jurong Island, said:

"The opening of ExxonMobil's chemical plant is a testimony of the excellent infrastructure on Jurong Island and the strong partnership with ExxonMobil. We remain committed to work with the industry to ensure that Jurong Island remains a key energy and chemical hub in the region."

 




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Tuesday, December 10, 2013

SINGAPORE: Vopak to build Southeast Asia’s first independent LPG storage facility on Jurong island

(EnergyAsia, December 10 2013, Tuesday) — Dutch oil and chemicals storage giant Royal Vopak has announced that it will be building Southeast Asia's first independent liquefied petroleum gas (LPG) facility in Singapore.

Vopak said it expects to complete the refigerated import terminal on Jurong island with an initial capacity of 80,000 cubic meters (cbm) in the first quarter of 2016.

"The facility will be connected via pipeline to nearby plants and will allow for LPG import and distribution in Jurong Island in a safe and efficient manner," said a Vopak statement which added that it had signed up ExxonMobil as its first anchor customer for its latest project.
It did not reveal the cost of the project which will add to Jurong Island's feedstock flexbility.

"This project fits well in Vopak's overall strategy, as gas will become an interesting alternative for naphtha. This LPG facility not only caters to the rising petrochemical needs of alternative and cost effective feedstock in Singapore, it also has the potential to lead in the facilitation of regional imports," said Vopak chairman and CEO Eelco Hoekstra.

"Asia's appetite for LPG is growing. Supply developments in the US, the Middle East and potentially Australia will cover a growing LPG demand in Asia. As such, we see the opportunity to capture these imports with an independent LPG terminal in the region."

"Singapore is a natural choice as it is home to several large petrochemical complexes and we already have an established presence supported by excellent relationships with local authorities. Most importantly, building on the success of Singapore as an oil hub, there is potential for a regional hub for LPG and we are keen to be part of this growth."

Vopak and its partners currently own and operate LPG terminals in China, Pakistan, the Netherlands and Peru with a total capacity of 431,200 cubic metres (cbm).

 




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Monday, October 7, 2013

ASIA: Southeast Asia should focus on raising energy efficiency, says Brunei energy research chief

 

(EnergyAsia, October 8 2013, Tuesday) — This is an edited version of an article by Weerawat Chantanakome, CEO of the Brunei National Energy Research Institute (BNERI).

The energy efficiency practice in Southeast Asia is still in its infancy stage, even though the region's energy intensity – the amount of energy used to produce each dollar of gross domestic product (GDP) – has steadily declined in recent years.

Between 2005 and 2009, ASEAN countries reduced their energy intensity by 4.97%, bringing them closer to reducing regional energy intensity by at least 8% from 2005 levels in 2015.

However, according to a statement issued at the 30th ASEAN Ministers on Energy Meeting (30th AMEM) last year, energy consumption looks set to rise by 4.4% per year till 2030 under business-as-usual conditions, driven by continued urbanisation and expanding populations. ASEAN or the Association of Southeast Asian Nations is the regional grouping for Brunei, Cambodia, Indonesia, Laos, Malaysia, Myanmar, Philippines, Singapore, Thailand and Vietnam.

With energy security taking precedence of late in national agendas, ASEAN governments are taking a harder look at energy efficiency. It is an untapped fifth fuel – that together with fossil fuels, nuclear, renewables and coal – can power ASEAN economies as they aim for sustainable economic growth, ensuring universal energy access for all and mitigating the onset of climate change.

The government as role model
Governments have to take the lead in furthering energy efficiency and for some of them, housekeeping is in order. Several ASEAN countries have existing policies and market incentives to promote energy efficiency, but must ensure better monitoring and enforcement.

There are also numerous best practices to follow, which have addressed consumer and industrial energy demand while ensuring that legal mechanisms support the above as well as new schemes to enhance efficiency.

In Thailand, in the 1990s, a fund was set up to support energy efficiency projects, using proceeds from taxes on petroleum products. Simultaneously, demand-side management plans such as public awareness campaigns and energy efficiency standards for buildings and appliances were launched.

In 2002, the Thai government decided to offer credit lines to local banks to provide loans to developers of energy efficiency projects. By 2010, this revolving fund had financed projects worth a total of US$453 million, yielding energy cost savings of around US$154 million each year.

ASEAN should start by harvesting some low-hanging fruit including instituting building codes and fuel efficiency standards in the transport sector, using LED lights for street lighting and traffic lights, and labelling appliances to promote the purchase of efficient appliances. They can draw on existing multilateral funding to promote greater consumer awareness in energy efficiency.

The Asian Development Bank has consistently funded energy efficiency projects. Between 2005 and 2011, its investments in projects with a demand-side energy efficiency component totalled US$1.8 billion. It is also setting up a new Energy Efficiency Technical Support Unit to provide technical policy and financial support in accelerating energy efficiency investments in its developing member economies.

Longer-term, as energy efficiency becomes a more widespread priority, new regulations can be formulated to take efficiency standards to the next level. This year, Singapore, which already has mandatory efficiency labeling for appliances, introduced an Energy Conservation Act requiring energy-intensive companies to appoint an energy manager, monitor and report energy use and greenhouse gas emissions, and submit energy efficiency improvement plans to the government.

Breaking down barriers
While promoting efficiency, governments will have to address the long-standing barriers to more efficient usage of energy. These would range from the price of energy and the lack of political will to change this, the lack of human resources and finance to adopt innovative projects and a lack of coordinated efforts to promote efficiency in both the supply and demand side.

The failure to price energy at its market cost is probably the most-talked about impediment to energy efficiency in Asia, and it is also a drain on public resources that could have gone towards investment in electrification and integration into the ASEAN-wide power grid.

Hopefully, this will lead to further changes as a few ASEAN countries have recently demonstrated the political will to remove subsidies.

An ability to measure the effectiveness of energy efficiency programmes is key to their further uptake. ASEAN integration in the coming years and regional platforms for discussion such as the Singapore International Energy Week (SIEW) can facilitate the transfer of technology and know-how.

In addition, countries like the Philippines, Thailand and Singapore that have developed capacity and standards for energy service companies (ESCOs) can assist others in creating ESCO accreditation systems.

While demand-side management efforts continue across the transport, residential and industrial sectors, supply-side efficiency solutions cannot take a backseat.
Lowering energy demand will mean less public infrastructure expenditure on power generation plants in the long-run but the impact of more efficient power generation in existing plants will be seen in the medium-term.

The power of five
Unfortunately even with its potential, energy efficiency on its own is not a silver bullet to ensure long-term energy security. Its key significance lies in reducing energy costs for businesses and nations alike while easing the growing burden on the environment.

Keenly aware of the importance of each element in the fuel mix, Brunei Darussalam has set up the Brunei National Energy Research Institute (BNERI) to look at paving the way for a future where oil and gas plays a smaller role in fuelling the economy and where energy efficiency and renewables carry significant weight in the kingdom's energy mix.

The rest of ASEAN too is making constant progress in pursuing resource diversification – a necessary strategy to prepare for the opportunities and uncertainties in an ever-volatile global energy landscape.

 




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Thursday, October 3, 2013

Jurong Island to launch LPG project soon

 

JI 2.0 upgrades include 2nd road link aimed at boosting petrochem hub

[SINGAPORE] More upgrading additions to Jurong Island - including a liquefied petroleum gas (LPG) terminal to import the alternative feedstock for petrochemical crackers here, and a safety and risk management centre - are expected to be launched soon.

Studies are also well underway for longer-term projects, such as having a second road link to the petrochemicals island around 2022.

These latest projects, under the government's ongoing JI 2.0 initiative, are aimed at boosting the global competitiveness of Singapore's petrochemicals sector, even as new rivals emerge in the Middle East and the US, where new plants are being built to capitalise on cheaper feedstocks from shale gas projects.

Giving an update on JI 2.0, Eugene Leong, head of Energy & Chemicals at the Economic Development Board, told The Business Times that the projects follow the recent establishment of new utilities plants employing alternative fuels such as coal/biomass and woodchips by Tuas Power and Sembcorp respectively. The latter is also set to use waste materials to produce utilities for petrochemical investors there. EDB is also encouraging more companies to set up in-house utilities plants using gas from the newly started Singapore LNG terminal.

"By providing more such options, whether in feedstocks, logistics or in other areas, greater robustness will be added to the system," he said.

The LPG terminal, for instance, will provide the petrochemical crackers here with an alternative to naphtha feedstocks.

"Globally, the economics to support the LPG project have improved as the world shifts to lighter feedstocks," he said, adding that the project is in its final stages, with EDB in advanced discussions with a private-sector investor. Earlier estimates put its cost at US$100-120 million.

Also under implementation is the JI safety and risk management centre, which is a multi-government agency effort to set up a centralised planning and strategic unit to oversee issues, such as fires and the environment on the island. A technical adviser, the UK Health & Safety Laboratory, has been appointed to advise on this, and the centre is looking at staffing requirements.

Mr Leong said that since JI 2.0 was first mooted three years ago, there have been new emerging challenges such as that posed by US shale gas. "But there is still a role for naphtha crackers like those in Singapore," he said, explaining that Asian petrochemicals demand is still growing strongly by a 10 per cent compounded annual rate, "so the region still needs some 20 million tonnes per annum of cracking capacity, which works out to close to two crackers annually".

"Also, as gas is lighter, naphtha crackers are still needed to produce the heavier petrochemicals or olefins like butadiene," he said. This explains why Petrochemical Corporation of Singapore is carrying out a plant expansion for this.

"Jurong Island's big geographical advantage is also that we have the Asian market in our backyard," Mr Leong said. And it is not just China, but also the Asean region which has been growing very strongly economically over the past few years, making this a strong regional demand centre for petrochemicals, he added.

During the same interview, Dennis Tan, director for JTC Corporation's Biomedical and Chemicals cluster, disclosed that JTC is planning to build a second road link from Jurong Island to the mainland, with this crossing the Jurong West Channel to the Jurong West area. This will help alleviate the current checkpoint congestion especially during morning peak hours.

"It will be a major engineering challenge and we are studying options of where to connect, and how to connect, including whether it should be above or below the sea."

"The mainland part is also already developed, so there will be other key considerations like its impact on transport network flows and on industries already operating there, as well as other issues like financial, environment and the land involved," he said.

"At this point, the study will take a couple of years, then we go into the necessary government approvals, followed by construction, which will also take a couple of years. So the earliest this second link can be operational will be around 2022, or in nine years' time," Mr Tan said.

Logistics-wise, a new Jurong Island barging terminal is also supporting movement of hazardous chemicals from plants there.

Complementing the usual overland trucking of containers or tanks from the petrochemicals island, the terminal, which started up last year, allows barges to take the chemicals directly to the port for onward export, he said.

On the $890 million first phase of the underground Jurong Rock Cavern oil storage, Mr Tan said that testing and pre-commissioning has started on the first two of the five caverns, with the entire phase set for completion next year, in time for its first customer, Jurong Aromatics Corporation, which is starting up then.

An operator for the JRC project is expected to be picked by year-end, he added.

 




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