SINGAPORE: ExxonMobil announced on Tuesday (Apr 2) a multi-billion dollar expansion of its integrated manufacturing complex in Singapore that will help it increase production of cleaner fuels with lower-sulphur content.
The expansion project, which is expected to come online in 2023, will convert fuel oil and other residual crude products into higher-value lube base stocks and distillates, ExxonMobil said in a statement.
It added that this will increase its capacity to produce cleaner fuels with lower-sulphur content by 48,000 barrels per day, including high-quality marine fuels.
The expansion comes as the shipping and oil refining industries scramble to meet the International Maritime Organization's (IMO) new rules on marine fuels from 2020, which limits sulphur content to 0.5 per cent from 3.5 per cent, to curb pollution from ships.
Companies have made large investments to comply with the new standards since they were announced in 2016.
The Singapore refinery, located on Jurong Island and a site on the mainland in Jurong, is ExxonMobil's largest with a capacity of about 592,000 barrels per day.
Singapore is also home to the oil giant's biggest integrated petrochemical complex, and the facility includes the world's only steam cracker capable of cracking crude oil.
"The decision to expand our operations in Singapore helps to further establish ExxonMobil as a regional leader in producing innovative products that help customers improve fuel economy and reduce emissions," said Gan Seow Kee, chairman and managing director of ExxonMobil Asia Pacific.
"This is the latest in a series of major investments in Singapore and builds on our commitment to enhance our growth and competitiveness in the Asia Pacific region."
Exxon did not specify the amount it plans to invest in the expansion project.
Hailing the move, Minister for Trade and Industry Chan Chun Sing said that the investment signals ExxonMobil's continued confidence in Singapore and the country's petrochemical industry. This will also create "new and exciting opportunities" for local companies and workers, he added in a Facebook post.
"ExxonMobil has been a close and trusted partner and they have played a significant role in the development of Singapore’s vibrant petrochemical industry," said the minister.
"Singapore’s strong and trusted brand name, skilled work force and pro-enterprise environment have allowed us to distinguish ourselves from the competition and remain attractive to major foreign investors," he added.
"We will continue working closely with all stakeholders to develop a diverse and vibrant economy for the benefit of Singaporeans."