Govt to make energy and chemicals industry more competitive: PM Lee
- POSTED: 08 Jan 2014 12:43
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Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong said Singapore will continue to support the energy and chemicals industry and that the government stands fully behind petrochemicals companies to help them succeed.
SINGAPORE: Singapore will continue to grow the energy and chemicals industry, and the government stands fully behind energy and petrochemicals companies to help them succeed, Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong said.
Mr Lee was speaking on Wednesday at the opening ceremony of ExxonMobil's Singapore Chemical Plant expansion on Jurong Island.
The multi-billion-dollar expansion is the largest manufacturing investment in Singapore.
The energy and petrochemicals industry contributes to a third of Singapore's manufacturing output, and has positive spillover effects into other sectors like services and logistics.
Mr Lee said jobs in the industry are the highest paid within the manufacturing sector, and many Singaporeans have built successful careers in the industry.
He added Singapore will continue to grow the sector, and help energy and petrochemical companies succeed.
Mr Lee elaborated: "The Singapore government stands fully behind them and will continue to help them to succeed. These companies, including ExxonMobil, depend on us to maintain a predictable environment for their investments to succeed over the long term.
“To make it worthwhile for them to operate in Singapore despite our natural constraints -- such as land or feedstock -- and we fully understand these considerations and we will fully honour our commitments to these companies which have placed their trust in Singapore."
Mr Lee said the industry has a bright future but there are some challenges as well.
They include growing competition from other petrochemical centres in the US, Europe and China, rising concern over carbon emissions, as well as other domestic challenges like the cut in foreign labour supply and land cost.
Amid these challenges, Mr Lee said Singapore seeks to maintain its leading position in the industry.
Strategies include improving the skills of the workforce, finding ways to tackle climate change, and upgrading the infrastructure on Jurong Island to attract new investments.
One example is ExxonMobil's multi-billion dollar expansion of its chemical plant on Jurong Island.
With this, the company's total investment in Singapore across its various operations amounts to over US$10 billion.
The chemical plant is now ExxonMobil's largest integrated refining and petrochemical facility in the world, and will serve as a platform for future growth.
Rex Tillerson, chairman and chief executive officer of ExxonMobil Corporation, said: "We expect global chemical demand to grow at a faster pace than GDP (gross domestic product) 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 said the plant will serve growth markets from China to the Indian subcontinent and beyond.
ExxonMobil also celebrated 120 years of operations in Singapore with a gala dinner at Shangri-La Hotel on Wednesday.
The company had started as a kerosene and lubricants company in Singapore, and opened its refinery in 1966, shortly after Singapore gained independence.
Singapore president Tony Tan Keng Yam was the guest of honour, as the company celebrated the key milestone with cultural performances and a cake-cutting ceremony.