Sunday, December 30, 2012

SINGAPORE: ExxonMobil starts up new ethylene cracker, power plant at petrochemicals complex

(EnergyAsia, December 31 2012, Monday) — After more than a year of delay, ExxonMobil said it has started up operations at one of the world's largest ethylene steam crackers, the centrepiece of the company's multi-billion dollar expansion project at its Singapore petrochemical complex.

The US major has added a new 220-megawatt cogeneration power plant, and a petrochemicals complex with an annual capacity to produce a total 2.6 million tonnes of ethylene, polyethylene, polypropylene, metallocene elastomers, an oxo-alcohol unit and aromatics. Ethylene production is expected to start in the next few months, well behind the original target of early 2011.

Shaw Group, the US-based contractor for the ethylene cracker, suffered a huge loss from the project as a result of rising sub-contractor cost increases and schedule delays since construction began in November 2007.

ExxonMobil has an existing 140-MW cogeneration facility to supply electricity to its world-scale operations on Jurong Island. Cogeneration allows for the efficient generation of electricity to run pumps, compressors and other equipment, while at the same time producing additional steam for use in the production processes. Cogeneration is significantly more efficient than traditional methods of producing steam and power separately, resulting in lower operating costs and reduced greenhouse gas emissions.

Estimated to cost more than US$5 billion, the expansion project has made the Singapore facility ExxonMobil's largest refining and petrochemical complex. It also marks the first production by ExxonMobil of its proprietary specialty elastomers and metallocene-based polyethylene in the Asia Pacific region.

Steve Pryor, President of ExxonMobil Chemical Company, said:

"We have doubled the size of our finished product capacity at Singapore, making this the largest chemical expansion project in ExxonMobil history. This is among the most technically advanced and competitive manufacturing sites in the Asia Pacific region."

The expansion will increase the company's chemical plant workforce by 50%, bringing total employment at ExxonMobil's Singapore integrated refining and chemical complex to 1,800. During peak construction, the project employed on site 22,000 workers who achieved more than 80 million work hours with no lost-time injuries in construction activities.

ExxonMobil has operated in Singapore for more than 100 years and is one of Singapore's largest foreign manufacturing investors.


Tuesday, December 25, 2012

National self-sufficiency for natural gas seen, not crude oil, professionals tell Deloitte

(EnergyAsia, December 24 2012, Monday) — America can bank on plentiful domestic natural gas, but will have to continue relying on foreign oil, according to 250 oil and gas decision-makers who participated in a recent Deloitte survey.

Three-quarters of the respondents think the US is already natural gas self-sufficient, or will be within 10 years.

When it comes to oil, however, survey respondents are far less optimistic about the nation's ability to meet American demand with domestic supplies: 54% say the US will never be completely oil self-sufficient – and only 26% say oil self-sufficiency is achievable in the next 10 years.

Deloitte believes that the answers would have been different if the question of oil self-sufficiency had been expanded to include all of North America.

"Given North America's remarkable success with unconventional oil – both tight oil in places like North Dakota and oil sands in Canada – something closely resembling self-sufficiency is arguably within reach," said Peter Robertson, a senior advisor to Deloitte and former vice chairman of Chevron Corporation.

"When you combine unconventional oil supplies with the recently established increase in shale gas reserves, you could have the makings of a true energy renaissance."

Deloitte conducted the survey in late October and canvassed 250 oil and gas professionals from a decision-making demographic: Respondents were 48 years old on average and had an average of 20 years' experience in the industry. All had college or graduate degrees and earned over US$100,000 per year.

"It's not surprising that oil and gas decision-makers are enthusiastic about the role of natural gas in our national energy future, given burgeoning supplies, America's comparatively low cost of extraction, and its relative cleanliness," said John England, Deloitte LLP's vice chairman, and leader of the company's oil and gas practice.

"What is surprising is that natural gas is a fuel source that we were aggressively preparing to import at high world prices just a few years ago."

Looking at 2013, the respondents see natural gas prices remaining quite low – with 40% predicting prices less than US$3 per MMBtu, and a large majority (86%) predicting Henry Hub prices under $4 per MMBtu.

Crude oil prices, on the other hand, are expected to remain relatively strong next year. About 57% of respondents expect think the average cost West Texas Intermediate crude oil to range between US$80 and US$99 a barrel.

Regarding natural gas regulations, 49% think regulations related to hydraulic fracturing are "just right" or "evolving, but on the right track" – but a minority (39%) still believe there is "too much regulation." Just 5% say there is "too little regulation" and 7% say they are "unsure."

A clear majority of 63% of the respondents supports regulations requiring producers to disclose the contents of their hydraulic fracturing fluids, with only 24% in opposition and 13% "unsure".

Looking at the issue of shale gas resource estimates,

A majority (51%) believes that current industry estimates of recoverable shale gas reserves are on target, with 23% saying they are "somewhat overestimated" and the exact same amount saying they are "somewhat underestimated."

Only a few think shale resources are "very overestimated" or "very underestimated" – 1% and 2% respectively.

"It seems clear that oil and gas professionals believe America has a veritable bounty of shale gas resources," said Roger Ihne, principal, Deloitte Consulting LLP, serving the oil and gas sector.

"In simple terms, over 95% think the current industry estimates are accurate or not far off."

With the large gas resource base, industry professionals foresee continued low prices and new market opportunities abroad.

Most survey respondents think that the abundance of shale gas will lead to liquefied natural gas (LNG) exports.

A large majority (72%) expect that LNG export terminals will eventually receive government approval – with 36% believing this approval will occur before 2014 and the exact same percent expecting approval after 2014.

Similarly, the survey found that even with exports of LNG, most oil and gas decision-makers don't see a meaningful increase in domestic natural gas prices. A strong majority (93%) sees either no price increase or a slight change in price. In contrast, only 7% expect a significant price increase.

"Given the reserve estimates and current supplies, it only makes sense that natural gas producers are keen to develop new uses for their gas. One possible option that stood out among survey respondents was use as a transportation fuel," said Mr Ihne.

When asked to identify the best alternative transportation fuels to gasoline and diesel, survey respondents clearly preferred natural gas – with 67% seeing products like compressed natural gas (CNG) as the most promising option to refined oil products, far ahead of other top choices like electricity (11%) and biofuels (8%).

The survey also looked at a host of other pressing issues facing oil and gas companies today.

A large majority (78%) of respondents expect that the Keystone XL pipeline will eventually receive government approval – with 42% expecting approval in 2013 and 36% expecting approval in 2014 or later.

About 59% predict increased capital spending in 2013 with 35% expecting it to remain the same, and only 6% think it will decrease.


Sunday, December 16, 2012

MARKETS: ExxonMobil expects natural gas to surpass coal as second most popular fuel by 2025

(EnergyAsia, December 17 2012, Monday) — Natural gas will surpass coal as the world's second most popular fuel after oil by 2025, predicts ExxonMobil in its latest long-term forecast to 2040.

Coal demand will start declining after peaking around 2025 while natural gas will continue to surge as more countries consume cleaner-burning fuels to curb greenhouse gas emissions.

New technologies will help develop new sources of reliable and affordable energy as well as new uses to support economic growth, with North America leading the way.

Natural gas will be key, its global demand seen rising by about 65% through 2040 while coal use will slide by 10% between 2025 and 2040, said ExxonMobil.

"Demand for coal, on the other hand, will peak around 2025 and then decline, as improved efficiency couples with a shift to less carbon-intensive energies, particularly in the electricity generation sector.

"This shift will be led by the OECD, but even China, which today accounts for close to 50% of global coal demand, will see its coal usage fall by more than 10% through 2040. This would mark the first long-term decline in global coal usage since the start of the Industrial Revolution," said the US major.

North America will account for 20% of global natural gas production through its application of new technology to exploit its vast shale and other unconventional sources. The abundance of shale-based oil and gas will become help revitalise old world energy-intensive industries such as energy, chemicals, steel and manufacturing.

"These resources will also create new opportunities for global trade with countries in Europe and the Asia Pacific region, which are reliant on international markets to meet domestic energy requirements. The changing landscape and resulting trade opportunities will continue to provide consumers with more choices, value, wealth and good jobs," said ExxonMobil.

In its annual forecast, the US major said global energy demand will expand by about 35% between 2010 and 2040.

Future energy needs will be supported by more efficient energy-saving practices and technologies, increased use of less-carbon-intensive fuels such as natural gas, nuclear and renewables, and the development of unconventional energy sources that were previously inaccessible without technology advances.

Thursday, November 29, 2012

Politics and LNG exports: What is the future of shale gas?

(EnergyAsia, November 29 2012, Thursday) — The following is an edited version of an article written by Susan L. Sakmar, Visiting Assistant Professor, and Andrews Kurth Energy Law Scholar, University of Houston Law Centre. It was first published by CWC News.

The vast shale gas reserves that have been unlocked in the US have been a "game changer" with shale gas expected to constitute almost 50% of US natural gas production by 2035.

What is less clear is whether the abundance of shale gas will result in the US becoming a major LNG exporter with a growing number of companies seeking approval from the US Department of Energy (DOE) to export LNG to countries around the world.

US law generally requires automatic approval of natural gas exports to most countries that have a free trade agreement (FTA) with the US, including Australia, Bahrain, Canada, Chile, Colombia, Dominican Republic, El Salvador, Guatemala, Honduras, Jordan, Mexico, Morocco, Nicaragua, Oman, Peru, Republic of Korea, Singapore and Panama which has not yet taken effect. Notably, the US currently does not have an FTA with Japan – the world's largest LNG importer.

For non-FTA countries, the DOE reviews proposed exports on a case-by-case basis to ensure they are consistent with the "public interest" in light of a number of factors including the domestic need for the natural gas proposed to be exported, whether there is a threat to the domestic security of supply, and other factors deemed to be relevant to a public interest determination.

While the US DOE claims "it takes its statutory responsibility to make public interest determinations on natural gas export applications very seriously and is committed to taking the time necessary to get the decisions right," a number of lawmakers have been putting pressure on the Obama administration to speed up the approval process for the pending LNG export applications.

In an August 2012 letter to Energy Secretary Steven Chu, a group of US lawmakers pointed out that the DOE "does not seem to have a set timeline for decisions or a sense of urgency," which has left a growing number of companies and projects waiting in limbo, with Cheniere's Sabine Pass Liquefaction project being the only project granted an export license for non-FTA countries.

Prior to the US Presidential election on November 6, the prospect of the US becoming a major natural gas exporter became a political hot button that no one wanted to push in an election year. Some US policy makers have expressed concern that LNG exports will increase domestic prices for natural gas, which would harm consumers as well as industrial users of natural gas such as the steel, plastics and fertiliser industries.

While most business leaders seem reluctant to argue that a free trade nation like the US should restrict exports, some have urged that America should exploit her competitive advantage with lower natural gas prices to create jobs by using its cheap natural gas to convert to products for export, as opposed to exporting the natural resource itself. Still others have claimed that with far fewer emissions than any other fossil fuel, America should use more natural gas at home, particularly in transportation and heating.

In addition to political and industry opposition, there is also risk that environmental opposition to shale gas development will spill over into opposition to US LNG exports. The Sierra Club has argued that LNG exports could increase the domestic price of natural gas and inflict negative environmental impacts in the production stage.

Some reports have acknowledged that since the case for US LNG exports depends on the continued development of shale gas, the public's concerns over the environmental impacts of shale gas development must be resolved.


The bottom line

With the re-election of President Obama, many are wondering whether the long wait for export approval will soon be over. The DOE has retained an independent third-party contractor to conduct a review of the economic impacts of proposed LNG exports with the report expected by end-2012.

However, the DOE has also indicated that once complete, the report will be subject to public comment before it continues with the process required by statute to make public interest determinations on the pending applications. How long the public comment period will be open is anyone's guess.

This topic and many more will be discussed in more detail at CWC's World LNG Summit in Barcelona on November 27-30, and at CWC's World Shale Oil & Gas: Latin America Summit in Buenos Aires on November 28-30.


Tuesday, November 27, 2012

Shell expanding Pulau Bukom ethylene cracker

Sunday, Nov 18, 2012

SINGAPORE - More investments are coming to Jurong Island.

Shell is expanding its upstream ethylene cracker - core to its US$3 billion (S$3.7 billion) Shell Eastern Petrochemicals Complex (SEPC) here - to ramp up production of olefins and aromatics by over 20 per cent to meet in-house needs as well as the needs of customers.

No investment sum was cited, but the debottlenecking of the cracker - boosting its production of petrochemicals like ethylene, propylene and benzene to one million tonnes per annum (tpa) from the current 800,000 tpa - should easily run into hundreds of millions of dollars.

Capacity-wise, this will bring it on a par with ExxonMobil's new US$1 billion-plus, one million tpa second cracker here, which will start up any time now. The cracker is part of the US oil giant's second US$5-6 billion petrochemical complex here.

Separately, Mitsui Chemicals has also just announced that it is setting up another US$115 million plant here to produce specialised polymers used in the manufacture of various packaging materials. The plant, its sixth here, effectively cements Singapore's position as the Japanese group's key external manufacturing base.

Shell said on Thursday that it had made a final investment decision to "debottleneck" its ethylene cracker on Pulau Bukom, with engineering taking place during the next plant maintenance turnaround. "We plan to supply the additional production to a combination of our own derivatives plants and third-party consuming facilities in Singapore," a spokesman told BT.

The expansion comes just over two years after the cracker first started up in the first quarter of 2010. It is a major component of the SEPC project - the Anglo-Dutch group's largest- ever petrochemicals investment - which is integrated with its largest refinery here on Bukom, as well as its world-scale mono-ethylene glycol plant on nearby Jurong Island.

Ben van Beurden, Shell Chemicals' executive vice- president, said: "Our Singapore ethylene cracker was designed with potential capacity expansion in mind and I am delighted to confirm this debottlenecking.

"The investment will generate additional volumes to help us meet growing demand from our customers in the region. It will also further unlock value from integration with our refinery and our derivatives activities on Jurong Island. This integration is key to our strategy."

Underlining the project's significance, Dr Huck Poh, Shell Singapore's manufacturing director, added: "This project reinforces Shell's commitment to Singapore, which is already our largest petrochemicals production and export centre in the Asia Pacific."

Shell's recent expansions here include the ramping up of its high-purity ethylene oxide (HPEO) production here, ahead of plans to eventually build a new HPEO plant to feed a new "chemicals corridor" for the HPEO feedstock needed by downstream soap and detergent makers. It has also built a pilot plant for chemical intermediate diphenyl carbonate that could be a precursor to a full-scale commercial investment.

It is the increased availability of feedstock from Shell's petrochemical complex, as well as that of ExxonMobil and Petrochemical Corporation of Singapore, which has drawn downstream players like Mitsui Chemicals.

Mitsui's latest plant investment here (through wholly-owned subsidiary Prime Polymer) will produce metallocene linear low-density polyethylene used in the manufacture of various packaging materials. The 300,000 tpa Singapore plant will help it augment production from a similar-sized plant in Ichihara to supply to the rapidly growing Asian market.

Mitsui Chemicals has so far invested over S$1 billion in five other plants here, including one to produce elastomers used for making moulded products like car bumpers.


Monday, November 26, 2012

SINGAPORE: Rig builder Keppel O&M celebrates 10th anniversary with total orders exceeding S$12 billion


(EnergyAsia, November 27 2012, Tuesday) — Singapore's Keppel Corporation Limited said its wholly-owned subsidiary, Keppel Offshore & Marine Ltd, has secured S$12.2 billion worth of business since its start-up in 2002. (US$1=S$1.22).

Remarkably, the company, which was created from the merger of three offshore and marine companies, Keppel FELS, Keppel Shipyard and Keppel Singmarine, secured more than 70% or S$9 billion of its orders this year.

Revenue tripled from S$1.9 billion in 2002 to over S$5.7 billion in 2011, and is on course to reach a record this year after topping S$6.2 billion in the first nine months.

As one of the world's leading offshore rig builders, Keppel O&M has a global workforce of over 30,000 today, more than double 14,000 when it started.

Choo Chiau Beng, Keppel Corp's CEO, and Keppel O&M's chairman, said:

"The past 10 years have proven that this integration strategy is right for us. By eliminating duplication and internal competition, streamlining our operations as well as harnessing synergies and combined strengths, we have maximised value for not only ourselves, but also our customers and business partners. In the process, we have grown from strength to strength."

Tong Chong Heong, Keppel O&M's CEO, said:

"Our robust track record over the past decade reflects our strong capabilities. Today, our network of 20 yards globally enables us to meet increasing demand for local content.

"In the Gulf of Mexico, our yard in Brownville, Texas, is working on several projects for Mexican customers, while in Kazakhstan, we are building the country's first jackup rig.

"In Brazil, we are constructing six DSSTM38E semisubmersible (semi) drilling rigs for Sete Brasil, as well as undertaking the fabrication and integration works for four floating production storage and offloading (FPSO) units."

Keppel O&M has laid claim to having built half the world's jackup rigs and one-third of its semisubmersible rigs since 2000.

For 2013, Keppel FELS expects to deliver a record 20 rigs, exceeding its previous all-time high of 13 rigs in 2009.

In the marine sector, Keppel Shipyard has so far delivered 105 offshore conversion and upgrading projects, while Keppel Singmarine has completed some 400 specialised newbuild ships including offshore support vessels and specialised units.

Mr Tong said: "Our proprietary designs are gaining wide market acceptance. Since 2002, Keppel O&M has delivered 35 KFELS B Class jackups, 3 KFELS N Class jackups and 16 semis built to our proprietary designs. Since 4Q2010, Keppel O&M has secured a total of 39 newbuild rig orders, and out of these, 34 are for Keppel designed jackups and semis. We will continue to leverage our execution and design capabilities built up over the years to sustain our market leadership."


Tuesday, November 13, 2012

INDONESIA: India’s Tata Power, Japan’s Idemitsu acquire stakes in coal miner

(EnergyAsia, November 14 2012, Tuesday) — India's Tata Power Company and Japan's Idemitsu Kosan Co have acquired stakes in an Indonesian coal miner in separate deals

Tata Power bought a 26% stake in Jakarta-listed PT Baramulti Sukses Sarana Tbk (BSSR) for an undisclosed sum while Idemitsu Kosan said it paid more than one billion yen for a 3% stake.

India's largest private power company said the acquisition would improve its security of coal supply as BSSR and its subsidiary PT Antang Gunung Meratus (AGM) hold a combined one billion tonne of coal reserves in Kalimantan province.

In July, Tata Power signed a long-term agreement to import coal from AGM.

"We recognise fuel security as a key to support Tata Power's growth agenda. Thus, besides entering into coal off-take pact, we have acquired 26% stake in this coal mine as its reserves and outlook are very promising," said Tata Power's managing director, Anil Sardana.

The latest acquisition adds to Tata Power's 30% stake in two other Indonesian miners, PT Kaltim Prima Coal and PT Arutmin.

Separately, Idemitsu Kosan said it bought into BSS to access the miner's low-calorie sub-bituminous coal reserves and its growing exports to Vietnam, China, India and Japan.

According to Idemitsu, the miner expects to raise the annual production from its Antang Gunung Meratus mine from around three million tonnes to seven million tonnes by end-2014.


Sunday, November 4, 2012

SINGAPORE: Solar, renewable energy companies make major announcements at recent SIEW event

(EnergyAsia, November 5 2012, Monday) — At least seven companies involved in the solar and renewable energy sector made major announcements at the Singapore International Energy Week (SIEW) which took place on October 22 to 25.

Trina Solar, MEMC, Juwi, ReneSola, Saint-Gobain, GL Hassan and Yingli Solar issued statements related to their plans and operations in Singapore and the region during the 2012 Photovoltaic Asia Pacific Conference and Expo that was part of SIEW.

Trina Solar, an NYSE-listed integrated manufacturer of solar photovoltaic (PV) products, German renewable energy developer Juwi, ReneSola, Sait-Gobain and GL Hassan all announced the official opening of their regional head offices in Singapore.

Trina Solar and ReneSola said their Singapore offices oversee not only the Asia Pacific region, but also the Middle East and Africa.

Trina, which established its Singapore regional head office last year, said it provides management functions covering administration, sales, project development, R&D, logistics and purchasing operations.

ReneSola Ltd, a leading global manufacturer of solar photovoltaic (PV) modules and wafers, said the new office will also drive sales and business development for the company in Asia, the Middle East and Africa.

Europe's Saint-Gobain Solar, which designs, manufactures, distributes and markets building materials and solutions for housing, said it has started a Singapore office to drive sales in the region.

Nicolaj Dahl, the company's commercial director for Southeast Asia and the Pacific, said:

"Our entry into South East Asia & Pacific is a natural move for our business. Solar energy has an increasingly important role to play in energy generation. Our presence in the region will allow access to a premium PV module that is reliable and highly efficient. Our product and ambitions have already sparkled a substantial positive interest from major stakeholders in the region.'

At its new Singapore office, GL Garrad Hassan has appointed senior investment and strategy adviser Ragna Schmidt-Haupt to market its renewable energy services, with a strategic focus on solar investment.

The company said it is targeting Singapore for further expansion due to its status as a regional hub for investors, banks, manufacturers and project developers. Its strategic location and favourable tax and administrative regime are cementing its role as a platform for renewable energy investment in Southeast Asia.

Comprising Germanischer Lloyd, GL Noble Denton and GL Garrad Hassan, the GL Group in Singapore offers a full range of classification, engineering, oil & gas, renewables (wind, solar, wave & tidal) and software services from a single location.

NYSE-listed MEMC Electronic Materials Inc and its solar energy subsidiary, SunEdison, said they will establish an energy research centre in Singapore with the support and cooperation of the Singapore Economic Development Board (EDB). The centre, which will be located within MEMC's existing Singapore facility, will focus on solar energy research and development to improve energy yield and grid integration.

"This research will enable us to retrofit older systems to make them more efficient, and design the most efficient systems of the future," said Nagendra Cherukupalli, SunEdison's vice president and chief technology officer of Systems R&D.

MEMC, a global leader in semiconductor and solar technology, established its regional office in Singapore in 2006. Through SunEdison, MEMC is also a developer of solar power projects and a worldwide leader in solar energy services.

From its new regional head office in Singapore, Juwi, a leading German renewable energy project developer, is targeting to expand into Japan, Taiwan and India.

In September, Juwi and a local partner developed a one-MW solar power plant in southern Japan to produce electricity for 300 households. The plant will be connected to the grid by mid-December. In Jyn Lin province, Taiwan, the company is installing photovoltaic systems on eight rooftops.

The German firm has been most successful in India where it has completed five solar projects with a combined capacity of 22MW since October 2010.

Yingli Solar, another Chinese-owned NYSE listed company, said its has secured a deal with Keppel Corp to instal Singapore's largest solar system project.

The company said wholly owned subsidiary Yingli Green Energy Singapore Company Pte Limited will supply one MW of multicrystalline PV modules to SolarGy Pte Ltd, a Singapore-based PV system integrator, to install the plant at the Ulu Pandan NEWater Plant.

The project is owned by K-Green Trust and will be managed by Keppel Seghers NEWater Development Co Pte Ltd (KSND), both companies owned by Keppel Corp. SolarGy is responsible for the project's engineering, procurement and construction.

When completed in February 2013, it will be the largest solar PV installation at one location in Singapore, generating 1.2 million kWh of clean energy a year to meet the electricity consumption of 250 four-room residential apartments in Singapore.

The project will utilise around 4,000 pieces of Yingli 245 Wp high efficiency multicrystalline modules over the roofs of the plantrooms spanning an area of approximately 10,000 square metres.



Thursday, November 1, 2012

Reclaim land at islands for a second petrochemicals hub

Friday, Nov 02, 2012

SINGAPORE - With the recent plans to build a fourth storage facility at the liquefied natural gas (LNG) terminal on Jurong Island ("$500m plan to grow LNG terminal"; last Thursday), Singapore's energy sector is once again in the spotlight.

With the ever-tightening space constraints on Jurong Island, it may be time to explore additional areas for reclamation so as to maximise the potential of our energy sector.

Singapore is the third-largest global oil refining and trading centre, and the petroleum and petrochemicals industry is a key pillar of our economy.

However, with most of the land on Jurong Island already in use, the Government should launch a feasibility study into reclamation on the islands further south, namely Pulau Bukom, Pulau Busing and Pulau Sebarok.

These islands already contain crucial facilities, such as the Shell Refinery on Pulau Bukom, which churns out 500,000 barrels per day.

Joining these islands through reclamation would create much needed land for a further expansion of the petrol and petrochemicals industry, and fuel its continued growth.

The presence of another significant petrochemical hub is a potentially lucrative prospect, especially because of its close proximity to Jurong Island, which provides for the easy integration of operations between the two.

Furthermore, the scarcity of industrial land on Jurong Island has forced some global companies to search for alternative sites in the region.

Malaysia and Indonesia have already started developing their own respective downstream oil sectors. This is a cause for worry as both countries already have extensive upstream oil sector operations and the construction of a petrochemicals hub would be a logical and convenient step to take.

Furthermore, the Fukushima nuclear disaster has caused many countries to re-evaluate their reliance on nuclear energy.

If Singapore does not rapidly expand its energy sector to tap this huge potential in the global oil market, it stands to lose out on the potentially lucrative returns, and may also see a decline in its status as a key global oil hub.

The Government has launched numerous initiatives to tap the potential of the energy sector, such as the Jurong Rock Caverns, an underground oil storage facility.

However, it is unwise to put all our eggs in one basket.

It may be prudent to reclaim land and subsequently develop a second petroleum and petrochemicals hub to complement Jurong Island for the long-term benefit of Singapore's energy sector.

Sunday, October 28, 2012

SINGAPORE: Plans to invest S$500 million to build fourth LNG tank

(EnergyAsia, October 29 2012, Monday) — Singapore will invest S$500 million to add a fourth tank to its liquefied natural gas (LNG) terminal by 2017, boosting the total storage capacity to nine million tonnes, said the country's Second Trade and Industry Minister S. Iswaran. (US$1=S$1.22).

The terminal is expected to start up in the second quarter of 2013 with two tanks of total capacity of 3.5 million tonnes to be followed by a third tank of 2.5 million tonnes later in the year, he told the Gas Asia Summit last week.

Singapore LNG Corp (SLNG) is already studying plans to build a fifth tank on the Jurong Island terminal which is designed to accommodate six tanks.

Mr Iswaran said the expansion was in response to Singapore's faster-than-anticipated demand for LNG. Power generation companies and industries have committed to purchasing around 2.7 million tonnes/year or about 90% of the volume contracted for sourcing by BG.

He said the government is studying possible frameworks for future LNG import to allow for competitively-priced and reliable supplies while taking into consideration the needs of consumers and the operational efficiency of the terminal.

Singapore is paying one of the world's highest natural gas prices having signed long-term contracts with Indonesia and Malaysia at a reported 15% premium to spot high sulphur fuel oil. Singapore power generators and chemical producers are paying between US$16 and US$18 per million BTU for piped gas, more than double the price in Europe and five times the US.

"As the cleanest fossil fuel that can now be procured from diverse supply sources, LNG is set to play an increasingly important role in Singapore's energy mix. Hence, we must plan ahead to ensure that our infrastructure can cater to our future energy needs," he said.

Apart from enhancing Singapore's energy security by allowing further diversification of fuel sources, Mr Isawaran said the additional capacity will boost Singapore's role as an international LNG trading hub.

He said the increased storage infrastructure could catalyse business opportunities such as LNG trading, break-bulk services and LNG bunkering.

In a separate speech, SLNG CEO Neil McGregor said LNG could account for 30% of Singapore's gas demand when the terminal begins operating from the second quarter of next year.



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Wednesday, October 17, 2012

MYANMAR: Reforms will help boost economic development, says ADB, GlobalData

(EnergyAsia, October 12 2012, Friday) — Myanmar has the potential to triple its per capita income and become a middle-income nation by 2030 through growing its economy at annual rates of 7% to 8% if it continues to implement sweeping reforms, said an Asian Development Bank (ADB) study.

Consultant GlobalData made a similar pitch for the Southeast Asian state to grow rapidly as it develops into a "natural resources powerhouse".

"Myanmar's strategic location, rich natural resources and abundant labor force leave it perfectly positioned to prosper from Asia's dynamic economic growth," said Stephen Groff, ADB's Vice President for East Asia, Southeast Asia and the Pacific.

"Myanmar could be Asia's next rising star, but for this to happen there needs to be a firm and lasting commitment to reform."

The report, Myanmar in Transition: Opportunities and Challenges, is ADB's first major assessment of the country since it began political and economic reforms last year.

Emerging from decades of self-impose isolation, the country faces major challenges. Only a quarter of its people have access to electricity and only one in five of the country's roads are paved to all-weather standard, while its bureaucracy must be reformed to increase transparency and deliver better public services.

Growth will depend on the country maintaining macroeconomic stability – including measures for low (under 6%) inflation and sustainable budgets, encouraging domestic savings, and investing in human capital and infrastructure.

However, the report warns that the country may also face risks associated with economic liberalisation if the process is not managed prudently. Vulnerability to climate change and environmental degradation, as well as ongoing tension from internal conflicts could also derail the country's future growth.

To strengthen social cohesion and cut poverty rates, the ADB said greater investments are needed in education, health and social services. Although more than half its people rely on agriculture for a living, less than 20% of the country's farmland is irrigated. The report notes that investment in irrigation and other inputs could dramatically expand crop yields and boost incomes.

Myanmar's location between China, India, and other South and Southeast Asian nations leaves it poised to benefit from rising regional trade, tourism and investment, and growing demand for energy and natural resources from its wealthier neighbours.

To fully realise its potential, Myanmar must strengthen its connectivity by improving infrastructure in transport, power and telecommunications services as well as modernising its financial sector. Its economic base must also broaden beyond agriculture to the manufacturing and service sectors to meet a growing demand for jobs.

Having recently established an office in Yangon, ADB said it is studying the possibility of resuming operations in Myanmar, which were halted in 1988.

GlobalData said Myanmar's industrial growth could potentially benefit every strata of society, promoting employment opportunities and economic development, but this would require the country to adopt "holistic development policies" to compete with other middle-income Asian nations.

The consulting firm's report states that Myanmar has started taking steps to boost economic development following the new government's decision to end decades of military rule.

It notes Myanmar's strategic geographical location close to the fast-growing economies of China and India, where raw materials are in huge demand, providing a ready market for its minerals.

Australia and the US have recently lifted economic sanctions previously imposed on the country. New taxes enacted in the mineral-rich economies of Australia and Indonesia have also enhanced Myanmar's appeal as a destination for foreign direct investment (FDI).

The new democratic government has undertaken several national initiatives to develop Myanmar's mineral sector. The country will earn high marks if it follows through on its expressed interest to join the Extractive Industries Transparency Initiative (EITI), a global standard for increasing transparency in the extractive sector.

According to the ADB, the mining sector's contribution to Myanmar's GDP has increased from MMK15 billion (US$2.3 billion) in 2000 to MMK367 billion (US$56.2 billion) in 2010.

Myanmar holds minerals such as lead, zinc, silver, chromium, copper, gold, and precious gems.

The country also has several major oil and gas fields, but a lack of technology and low participation from foreign oil companies has left most of its hydrocarbon reserves unexploited.

In May 2012, the Ministry of Energy took a big step forward by announcing that foreign oil companies will be allowed to participate in exploring and developing 23 offshore oil and gas blocks.

GlobalData said Myanmar held proven 2.1 billion barrels of oil and 25 trillion cubic feet (tcf) of natural gas reserves as of April 2011. Its energy ministry estimates the country has domestic shale oil reserves to be around 3.3 million barrels.

Foreign investments in Myanmar's oil and gas industry reached US$13.8 billion for 2011–2012, representing almost 31% of the country's GDP.

However, GlobalData said the country must implement more investor-friendly policies to increase its share of international investments to help boost its fossil fuel production.

Myanmar faces formidable barriers to developing its economy, said GlobalData.

It struggles with weak governance and corruption, and lacks suitable transport, power and communications infrastructure. Better facilities are required for industry and international trade, and the government must move quickly to develop ports, roads and railways.


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SINGAPORE: Oiltanking acquires Helios Terminal and Chemoil Storage Limited

(EnergyAsia, October 10 2012, Wednesday) — Germany's Oiltanking GmbH said it has agreed to fully acquire Singapore-based Helios Terminal Corporation Private Limited and its holding company Chemoil Storage Limited subject to regulatory approvals.

Commissioned in 2008, Helios' terminal on Jurong Island has the capacity to hold 503,000 cubic metres (cbm). It is equipped with blending facilities and a finger jetty with six berths that can handle up to two Suezmax-size vessels simultaneously.

Oiltanking currently owns and operates two terminals in Singapore with a combined storage capacity of more than 1.7 million cbm. The acquisition will strengthen its position as an independent fuel storage services provider in Singapore and Southeast Asia.

Oiltanking, a subsidiary of privately owned Marquard & Bahls AG, is the world's second-largest independent tank storage provider for petroleum products, chemicals and gases worldwide. The company owns and operates 73 terminals in 22 countries around the world with a total storage capacity of 19.7 million cbm.

Chemoil, a Singapore-listed world leading supplier and trader of marine fuels, also supplies aviation fuel, diesel, renewable and biofuels, base oils and lubricants.


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SINGAPORE: SIEW 2012 interviews John Ng, CEO of Power Seraya.

(EnergyAsia, October 16 2012, Tuesday) — The following article features a Singapore International Energy Week (SIEW) 2012 interview with John Ng, CEO of YTL Power Seraya, the Singapore subsidiary of Malaysia's YTL group.
Q1: How and to what extend has the power generation sector been affected by the economic crises of recent years? What insights and lessons have you gained which have wide implications for Singapore's energy security?

John Ng: The unprecedented global financial and economic crisis of 2008 and 2009 had engulfed many Asian countries, including Singapore. In turn, it had impacted domestic electricity demand and supply. The cyclical economic cycle of 2008/2009 with an abrupt economic downturn followed by a sharp recovery had made it imperative for the energy industry to place greater emphasis on the timing of investment in capital projects as well as commitment to long-term fuel resources.

While Singapore's energy security should be pursued with caution, one must also seek to appreciate the high cost of placing such a high emphasis on it.

Energy policies that seek to address the concerns of rising energy prices and climate change will seek to enhance the nation's energy security. Yet, tradeoffs on competitive electricity prices to the consumers and consequently the social impact to the country must also be taken into account.
Q2: Your business operations, while largely Singapore-focused, are exposed to the variances of the global energy landscape. How has your businesses evolved in tandem with the changes taking place regionally and globally?

Ng: YTL PowerSeraya has always sought to move in tandem with the changes of the energy industry and has since grown from a pure generation company to an integrated energy with a multi-utilities offering, physical oil trading and fuel oil storage services.

As fuel cost is a significant portion of business cost, our trading arm PetroSeraya was set up to complement and grow our existing energy business. Its successful establishment has been one of YTL PowerSeraya's key moves towards completing the value chain from sourcing to end-user.

The policy of reducing exposure to volatile world oil prices, and utilising our every asset such as tanks and jetties, has continued to grow the company's whole value chain, with good success.

With the rise of global climate change issues, along with a global need for fuel diversification, we have over the years switched largely from the use of heavy fuel oil to natural gas. At the same time, we have voluntarily invested in cogeneration technologies that are deriving greater energy efficiencies.

We are also primed to be an active participant of the LNG market when the LNG terminal is ready in Singapore by 2013.

On a regional level, our parent company YTL Power also has operations in Malaysia and Indonesia. With our complementary expertise as a group, we will continue to explore the opportunities available in the region to enhance our energy portfolio.
Q3: As a genco, how are you working with your customers to increase the sustainability of their operations? At a broader level, what role do you see power generation firms playing in shaping a more sustainable future globally?

Ng: We believe efficient use of energy is key, with conservation of energy being the cornerstone to energy sustainability in Singapore. Through our retail arm, Seraya Energy, we have been working with customers on an ongoing basis to help them achieve energy efficiency and savings. This includes relevant energy solutions such as our Greenplus energy package which is bundled with energy management services to help customers improve their energy efficiency.

Our customer portal also provides real-time online access to bills and consumption reports and easy retrieval of customised reports so customers can better access and monitor their energy consumption. As part of our efforts to raise awareness and action on energy conservation, we also seek to educate customers on energy saving tips and to involve in them in our various environmental initiatives such as Earth Hour.

Power generation firms can seek to continuously place a strong emphasis on energy efficiency by taking a close look at energy sources, technologies, waste management and emission control, as well as resource conservation in their business operations.

In addition, power generation firms can work with their local government to support the growth of sustainable energy. Enhancing the company's position by building a strong association to sustainable operations can also help influence customers to think of sustainability in their own operations.
Q4: The energy landscape is evolving in many different directions. From your perspective as a genco, how do you think the Singapore energy landscape will look like 20 years from today?

Ng: In the next 20 years, the local energy landscape will be dominated by the use of natural gas in highly efficient cogeneration plants, which is currently the lowest carbon-emitting fossil that the industry can use to generate electricity.

An ASEAN framework for electricity import may already be in place by then, which can help enhance Southeast Asia's energy security through diversification of sources–allowing us even to tap on energy sources such as geothermal energy, which is not locally available.

To meet the region's demand for energy, the focus will still be geared towards exploring more efficient use of fossil fuels and renewable energy, energy conservation and wider spread adoption of newer technologies such as electric cars, smart grids and microgrids.
Q5: In your opinion, what is the likely scenario that the US will export shale gas to the rest of the world? How do you expect that to impact your business?

Ng: While there is a high possibility, this will still depend largely on the US Administration that is looking to strike a balance between the economics of expanding gas exports and meeting internal shale gas demand such as in power generation and chemical producing industries.

With the completion of the LNG terminal, Singapore can seek to receive more gas supply from other sources. Coupled with the nation's connectivity and infrastructure, the price of natural gas arriving into Singapore is also likely to fall, which can have a positive impact on business and the domestic consumers.

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Tuesday, September 18, 2012

MALAYSIA: Dialog, Vopak to build US$1.3 billion LNG terminal in Johor

(EnergyAsia, September 18 2012, Tuesday) — Five months after starting construction of their oil storage project in the southern Malaysian state of Johor, engineering group Dialog and Dutch oil and chemical storage firm Royal Vopak are setting their sights on building a liquefied natural gas (LNG) terminal near the same location.

The proposed US$1.3 billion terminal was among a list of seven projects worth a total of RM5.607 billion announced by Malaysian Prime Minister Najib Tun Razak as part of the country's Economic Transformation Programme. (US$1= RM3.05).

The LNG project will be part of the Pengerang Independent Deepwater Petroleum Terminal (PIDPT) that is being developed by a consortium owned by Malaysia's Dialog, Vopak and the Johor state government. The same team is building Southeast Asia's first independent crude oil storage terminal in the Pengerang area facing the South China Sea.

According to Prime Minister Najib, the Pengerang LNG terminal will store, load and regasify to support the import and re-export of LNG for the domestic and export markets.

"The terminal will be the first independent LNG trading terminal in Asia, allowing multiple LNG users to store and trade the product. This will spur the growth of the industry, and help establish Malaysia as Asia's LNG trading hub," he said.

The consortium will develop the project in two phases of 360,000 cubic metres each from 2013 to 2018. It expects to make the final investment decision by mid-2013.

Dialog has formed a 51/49 joint venture with Vopak that owns 90% of the company operating the PIDPT due to start up in 2014. The remaining 10% is held by the Johor state government.


Friday, September 14, 2012

SINGAPORE: Germany’s LANXESS starts construction of world’s largest Nd-PBR plant on Jurong Island

(EnergyAsia, September 14 2012, Friday) — Germany's specialty chemicals company LANXESS began construction of its 200-million-euro neodymium-based performance butadiene rubber (Nd-PBR) plant on Singapore's Jurong Island early this week.

When completed in the first half of 2015, the 140,000 metric tons/year plant will be the largest of its kind globally, producing raw materials for use in energy efficient and safety-enhance green tires.

Sited next to the company's butyl rubber plant, the Nd-PBR unit will add about 100 quality jobs, boosting the total to nearly 500 in Singapore.

Used in the treads and sidewalls of green tires, Nd-PBR helps reduce rolling resistance and increase the fuel efficiency of a tire. The chemical is highly resistant to abrasion and plays a significant role in making tires safer and more durable.

The Petrochemical Corporation of Singapore (Private) Limited will supply the bulk of the butadiene raw material needed to produce Nd-PBR, while TP Utilities Pte. Ltd, a wholly owned unit of Tuas Power Ltd, will provide steam to the new plant.

Foster Wheeler Asia Pacific Pte Ltd has been selected to carry out the detailed engineering and construction of the plant.

LANXESS said it is the global market leader for the production of Nd-PBR. Global demand for the product is growing at about 10% a year, while in Asia, it is rising by 13% as a result of an increasingly affluent middle class which is buying cars and better tires.

According to LANXESS, the EU will launch the mandatory tire labeling in November.

"Tires will be graded from A to G according to their fuel efficiency and wet grip. Rolling noise is also measured. Therefore, the new legislation provides more transparency for consumers by highlighting the added value of green tires. According to TU Munich, the market share of class A and B tires in the EU is expected to reach 20% to 30% in 2017 and then jump to 70% to 80% in 2022," it said.

Japan and South Korea were the first countries in the world to introduce a label system. After a voluntary tire label was introduced in Japan in January 2010, South Korea launched its voluntary labeling in November 2011 and will introduce a mandatory label in December 2012. Other countries like Brazil, the US and China are expected to follow shortly.

Speaking at the plant's groundbreaking ceremony, Axel C. Heitmann, LANXESS's chairman, said:

"We are delighted to be bringing another major rubber investment to Singapore, which underlines our commitment to 'green mobility. It is our company's focus on technology that makes it possible to reduce rolling resistance in tires and thus fuel consumption. This is good news for the consumer and the environment."

Leo Yip, chairman of the Economic Development Board, said:

"We are delighted with LANXESS' decision to locate its new Nd-PBR plant in Singapore. This is a significant investment for both LANXESS and Singapore as it will not only be the first Nd-PBR plant in Singapore, but also the largest of its kind in the world.

"To succeed in Asia, chemicals companies not only need excellent connectivity to key markets, but access to a skilled workforce and strong physical infrastructure. Global chemicals companies, like LANXESS, have found Singapore to be a strategic location from which to orchestrate their business growth strategies in Asia and beyond."

Among those present at the plant's groundbreaking ceremony were Angelika Viets, Germany's Ambassador to Singapore, senior LANXESS executives including Rolf Stomberg, Holger Hueppeler, Werner Breuers, Joachim Grub and Jose Chytry, and Julian Ho of the Singapore EDB.


Friday, August 31, 2012

EDB refines its refinery strategy

13 June 12  The Business Times  by ronnie lim

[SINGAPORE] Singapore may shut the door on new greenfield refineries, at least for a while.

Instead, in a strategic twist, the world's third biggest oil refining centre will get existing players like Shell, ExxonMobil, PetroChina and Chevron to upgrade or expand their facilities to produce higher-value petrochemicals, fuels and lubricants.

This comes as competition intensifies with new capacity emerging in Asia and the Middle East, and as concerns grow over greenhouse emission here. There is also the question of how much more Jurong Island can be expanded through reclamation.

"It's a survival issue for the Singapore industry," Fereidun Fesharaki, chairman of Facts Global Energy said recently. He was talking about emerging competition, including from the shale gas-fuelled US petrochemical crackers.

The Economic Development Board's deputy director of energy & chemicals, Eugene Leong, told BT this week: "EDB does not have a specific aim of attracting a greenfield refinery investment at the moment."

"With the strong refining base Singapore has built up - operated by world class companies, efficiently run and well integrated with the chemicals sector - the focus is on upgrading the complexity of these refineries to build on this strong foundation and remain globally competitive."

"Upgrading efforts include further downstream integration, not only with higher value petrochemicals, but also lubricants and fuels upgrading."

Mr Leong said this when asked for an update on a Hin Leong Trading-led consortium's plan - which includes one of China's "biggies" - to build a 300,000-500,000 barrels refinery costing US$6-8 billion here. Singapore's biggest local oil trader first mooted the plan in December 2010 and is understood to be still keen on building an integrated refining complex, including a petrochemicals element, and has gone back to the drawing board on this.

EDB's Mr Leong however, did not want to comment on this, stressing that "discussions with our clients is strictly confidential, and we cannot comment on specifics."

Singapore officials had previously stressed the need to draw more refineries here to anchor the thriving oil trading hub, and this is also cited in an industry background paper on EDB's website currently. This long-term strategy of growing refining capacity here remains, sources said.

In Singapore, ExxonMobil's 605,000 barrels per day Chawan refinery (ranked 5th) and Shell's 500,000 bpd Bukom facility (14th) are ranked among the top 20 biggest refineries worldwide by Oil & Gas Journal, with Reliance of India's new Jamnagar facility overtaking them at number four position.

BP's 2011 Statistical Review also showed that refining capacity here has stagnated at 1.38 million bpd, while other rival hubs are growing. In 2010, new refinery building boosted capacity in China to over 10 million bpd, while India's refining capacity has grown to 3.7 million bpd.

But the oil majors here have been expanding in other ways, with Shell's new petrochemicals complex and ExxonMobil's second such facility - currently being started up - helping attract a slew of new downstream investors, including synthetic rubber makers from Japan and Germany.

There is also upgrading, with ExxonMobil currently building a US$500 million "green" diesel project here, with PetroChina and Chevron also preparing to invest a similar sum on "green" petrol and lubricant feedstock plants at their Singapore Refining Company facility.

Competition is also knocking at Singapore's doorstep, with Malaysia's Petronas just announcing that it expects to make a final investment decision on its US$20 billion refinery in Pengerang, Johor by mid-2013.

Ngau Boon Keat, executive chairman of Dialog Group which is building a S$778 million oil storage terminal with Vopak next to the Petronas project, told StarBiz earlier this month that "Singapore is not building refineries because it has limited land. Singapore's Jurong (Island) is full. The only way it can grow is buying sand... It has gone downstream into producing petrochemical products."

But conceding that it will take Malaysia at least 10-15 years to catch up with Singapore petrochemicals-wise, he said that Johor, instead of being a competitor, can instead complement Singapore by "buying the raw materials they need from us, and vice versa."

Industry observers believe that Singapore is also becoming concerned about carbon emissions from having more refineries, and that is why it has taken a breather on this. The need for a large influx of foreign workers to build a refinery (ExxonMobil employed 22,000 workers at the construction peak of its petrochemical complex) is another.

Monday, August 27, 2012

SINGAPORE: Tougher emission standards to affect oil refineries, power plants and chemical facilities

(EnergyAsia, August 27 2012, Monday) — Singapore's oil refiners, power plant operators, chemical producers and automobile importers will be among the companies most affected by the National Environment Agency's (NEA) plan to raise emissions standards and improve air quality by 2020.

According to environment minister Vivian Balakrishnan, the agency will be implementing measures to meet World Health Organisation (WHO) air quality standards for particulate matter 10 (PM10), nitrogen dioxide, carbon monoxide, ozone and sulphur dioxide.

The NEA will also increase the reporting frequency of the nation's pollutant standards index (PSI) which measures PM10, ozone, nitrogen dioxide, carbon monoxide and sulphur dioxide in the ambient air from once a day to three times. For the first time, the daily reports will also include PM2.5, a fine pollutant responsible for causing a range of respiratory and heart illnesses.

Some key measures are being progressively enforced, starting with higher emission standards for off-road diesel engines from July 1 2012, to be followed by Euro V emission standards for new diesel vehicles by January 1 2014, and Euro IV emission standards for new petrol vehicles by April 1 2014.

From July 2013, transportation diesel must contain less than 0.001% sulphur while motor vehicles will only be allowed to use gasoline with sulphur content less than 0.005% by October 1 2013.

By January 1 2014, Singapore will require new diesel vehicles to meet Euro V emissions standards, while new gasoline vehicles will have to comply with Euro IV emission standards three months later.

The NEA said oil refineries and power stations will reduce sulphur dioxide output through use of natural gas and lower-sulphur fuels, while refiners have pledged to improve their processes to reduce emissions by 2020.

"These targets will enable Singapore to achieve a high standard of public health and economic competitiveness," said Ministry of the Environment and Water Resources (MEWR).

Once regarded as among the world's best, Singapore's air quality has deteriorated over the past decade to the point that it has fallen below WHO standards.

"Like many other major cities, air emissions from the industries and motor vehicles are the two key sources of air pollution domestically. Transboundary smoke haze from the land and forest fires in the region is also a problem which affects Singapore's air quality intermittently during the South West Monsoon period from August to October," said the NEA.

"Integrated urban and industrial planning, as well as development control have enabled the government to put in place preventive air pollution control measures during the planning stage. In addition, legislation, strict enforcement programme and air quality monitoring have helped to ensure that air quality remains good despite our dense urban development and large industrial base."

In 2009, the government launched the Sustainable Singapore Blueprint (SSB) to target its sulphur dioxide (CO2) content at an annual mean of 15 micrograms (one-millionth of a gram) per cubic meter air (µg/m3), and 12µg/m3 of PM2.5 by 2020.

The new air quality targets which are pegged to WHO standards will be aligned with the SSB targets. Singapore will adopt the final WHO standards for PM2.5 and sulphur dioxide at its long-term targets.


Friday, August 17, 2012

Singapore's Hin Leong Keen to Develop $8B Grassroots Complex

August 15, 2012

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Singapore's biggest local oil trader Hin Leong Trading is moving on the vertical integration track as the company awaits regulatory approval for the proposed construction of a mega 300,000 to 500,000 barrel-per-day (bpd) green field integrated manufacturing complex on Jurong Island, the company's Executive Director Evan Lim told DownstreamToday in an exclusive interview.

The planned integrated manufacturing complex -- meant to produce green fuels such as ultra-low sulfur gasoline, diesel and naphtha -- will cost around $6.5 to $8 billion (SGD8 to SGD10 billion), Lim said. "Hin Leong is also exploring the possibility of producing petrochemicals in the proposed integrated manufacturing complex," Lim added.

The proposed site for the refiner is on a plot of land sited next to Hin Leong's $602 million (SGD750 million) Universal Terminal (UT).

Making the Case for Hin Leong's Proposed Integrated Manufacturing Complex

Singapore-based Hin Leong, well-known in the oil products industry for its trading capabilities and mammoth tanker fleet, has recently expanded into the oil storage arena with the establishment of UT in January 2008.

"Moving up the value chain into manufacturing oil products and petrochemicals is a natural step for Hin Leong," Lim said.

There are three strong arguments for the Singapore government to consider approving Hin Leong's integrated manufacturing complex.

The first reason relates to cementing the country's position as a pricing center for oil products.

"Singapore is at present the Asian price discovery center for oil products. The country should seek to cement this leadership role by developing its manufacturing capabilities in the oil products sector," Lim said.

A published report by the National Climate Change Secretariat (NCCS) of the Prime Minister's Office of Singapore this year supports Lim's view. "Singapore is the third-largest export refining center worldwide," the NCCS said in the report. "Our significant oil storage and trading infrastructure has made Singapore the Asian price discovery center for oil products," the NCCS added in the report.

The second reason in support of the project pertains to Singapore's fuel security.

Lim expounded on the benefits that their push for vertical integration can bring to the island-city. In addition to supplying Singapore's buses, cabs and tug boats with diesel, Hin Leong is also able to supply heavy diesel oil to the nation's power stations. Heavy diesel oil serves as stand-by fuel for local power stations which generally burn natural gas. The proposed integrated manufacturing complex provides Hin Leong with a more secure source of diesel that is critical for the operations of Singapore's power plants in the event that natural gas sources are compromised.

"When there are interruptions in the feedstock supply of Singapore's power stations, the company can step in and supplies them with fuel," Lim said.

In view of Hin Leong's strategic position in Singapore's oil products market and the company's formidable assets both in storage and oil products transportation, it alludes that the company's proposed integrated manufacturing complex could deliver high operational efficiencies. This will result in greater stability of oil products for Singapore's transport and power industries, at possibly more competitive prices.

The third advantage that should be considered is the possible strengthening of bonds with China that this project could provide.

Hin Leong's proposed integrated manufacturing complex could be an avenue for Singapore to strengthen its ties with mainland China. UT is a high-profile project that Hin Leong has embarked on with PetroChina creating another inroad for Singapore and China to join hands in the oil products market. This relationship between the two countries -- in oil products and petrochemicals sectors -- could be further enhanced if Hin Leong manages to attract increased commitments from the Chinese national oil companies (NOC). Lim confirmed that Hin Leong remains keen on working with the Chinese NOCs on the integrated manufacturing complex project, pending governmental approval.

Hin Leong's interest in moving into manufacturing oil products was first revealed in 2010 by Singapore's Business Times. The daily reported that Hin Leong was at that time in discussions with Chinese NOCs for a possible partnership.

"There could be a business case [for Hin Leong] if the refinery (integrated manufacturing complex) is geared towards petrochemicals," Singapore's Energy Studies Institute Principal Economist Tilak Doshi told Reuters in December 2010.

The NCCS report supports Tilak Doshi's published opinion in 2010.

"Our refining and chemicals cluster is focused on moving up the value chain. This involves expanding the production of petrochemicals and specialty chemicals," the report stated. "Our strategy of moving up the value chain could also reduce the over-carbon intensity of the chemical cluster -- by up to 25 percent -- in the long term," the report added.

Other Developments in the Pipeline

Hin Leong is at present studying plans to replicate the success of UT beyond Singapore's shores. As the company already has a successful working relationship with a Chinese NOC, China is the "logical" choice for Hin Leong when considering its terminal expansion plans, Lim explained.

"But it is not appropriate to disclose details on the project as it is still in the planning stage," Lim added.

When asked about the company's plans to launch an initial public offering (IPO), Lim was noticeably coy, saying that the company is "always getting itself ready." He added that an IPO is all about timing.

"When we feel that the market is good enough, we will proceed," he said.

About Hin Leong

The Hin Leong Group -- established in 1963 -- is involved in trading, terminalling, shipping, bunkering and in-land tank trucking. The Group consists of Hin Leong Trading (HLT), Universal Group Holding, Ocean Tankers (OT), Ocean Bunkering Services (OBS) and Hin Leong Tank Trucks.

UT is the largest independent petroleum terminal in Singapore and one of the biggest commercial storage facilities worldwide. UT occupies 56 hectares of land (equivalent to 60 international-sized football fields) and it houses 15 jetties. The terminal inner basin has nine bunker barge berths.

OT, the company's petroleum and oil products transportation arm, has a fleet of over 100 tankers. The company's tanker fleet consists of 500-deadweight-tonne (dwt) coastal barges to 318,000-dwt VLCCs.

OBS was one of the first companies to achieve the "Accredited Bunker Supplier" status under the Maritime and Port Authority of Singapore's Accreditation. OBS offers offshore bunkering services to include oil rig operations in the South China Sea and drill ships and storage tankers in offshore oil fields.

HLT has 120 employees, while UT and OT have around 110 and 250 employees, respectively. OT's manpower count excludes the number of employees that are based offshore.