The chemical industry is one of the rapidly growing industries and provides essential chemical ingredients ranging from downstream to the high-tech electronics industries. Producers in the chemical industry experiencing change and are turning to high-end products (specialised chemicals with high added value) from low margin products. Today, Singapore is within the list of the world’s top 10 global chemical exports by volume and 5th largest refinery export hub and a global top ten petrochemical hub in the world. The country is highly investing in the innovation, development and research and represents itself as a widespread chemicals value chain, spanning refining to olefins production, to chemicals manufacturing.
Singapore has one of the largest bunkering ports with refineries in the world catering to the supply. In 2017, the country has exceeded sales of 50 million tons of bunker fuel. Today, Jurong Island is host to more than 100 companies comprising power plants, logistics & warehousing companies, upstream to downstream chemical plants, a national chemical engineering, toll blenders, and sciences research centre and many others. Singapore is quite strong at its physical and financial infrastructure, social and political stability and also a very strategic location which provides great connectivity. The country has laid a new roadmap in the energy and chemicals sector aiming to create 1,400 new jobs with $12.7 billion in value by 2025.
4.0 Industrial Revolution in Singaporean Chemical Industry:
Singapore’s manufacturing industry and global industries are triggered a structural change in value chains by the Fourth Industrial Revolution. Singapore’s manufacturing industry grew by 10% in 2017 (Ministry of Trade and Industry). By 2020, Singapore is planning to adopt advanced manufacturing technologies in its 20 energy and chemical plants and the government is focussing Advanced Manufacturing and Engineering (AME) funding. Energy and Chemicals Industry Transformation Map (ITM) is the government’s key component through which it is aiming manufacturing value added (MVA) of S$12.7 billion as well as 1,400 new jobs by 2025. The ITM’s two-pronged strategy focuses on modifying the existing base of Singapore’s chemicals manufacturing through the adoption of innovative solutions and noticed progress into new markets.
Chevron Oronite is one of the world’s leading integrated energy companies based in the US, produce safe, reliable energy by operating responsibly, executing with excellence, applying innovative technologies and capturing new opportunities for profitable growth. Chevron Oronite, at their Jurong Island plant, has piloted based on Industrial Internet-of-Things (IIoT) solutions in their manufacturing process. The company is expected to expand its pilot project to penetrate in the energy efficiency improvements and predictive maintenance solutions and has started saving 30,000 man hours a year. It is one of the companies which is embracing the benefits of digitalization.
Yokogawa Engineering Asia is a global leader in automation provides vital products, services, and solutions to a diverse range of process industries including oil, chemicals, natural gas, power, iron and steel, and pulp and paper. It is engaged in a broad range of activities in the areas of measurement, control, and information. The company through its Artificial Intelligence (AI) business concept – Synaptic Business Automation driving value creation as Yokogawa understood the process industry is set to undergo tectonic shifts. The Singaporean government is playing a vital role in connecting technology providers to the end users. The government is proactively engaging with companies, like Yokogawa and providing support to generate growth, boost productivity and transform their operations.
Singapore’s Chemical Industry Manufacturers Feeding Asia’s Appetite:
Globally, Singapore is one of the top ten exporters of chemicals; Jurong Island has been core to Singapore’s emergence as a chemicals powerhouse. According to the Ernst and Young, the global chemical market is expected to have a compounded annual growth rate (CAGR) of 3.9% between 2015 and 2030. According to Singapore’s Ministry of Trade and Industry, in 2017, Singaporean manufacturing sector saw a resurgence and expanded by 10.1% accelerating from the 3.7% growth of 2016. Due to sustained improvements in domestic demand, it is expected that in 2018 the ASEAN economies remain firm. Increasing demand and low crude oil prices in a number of end-user industries including plastics, packaging and transportation in APAC are contributing to this.
Mitsui Chemicals Group:
Mitsui Chemicals Group is a Japanese leading company develop materials and products that improve the quality of life while being environmentally friendly. In 2017, the company is continued to increase its footprint in Singapore opened its Prime Evolue plant. The very first Evolue plant outside of Japan producing EvolueTM branded MLLDPE. The Evolue plant is an example that companies are keenly interested in leveraging Singapore as a base to tap into the growing ASEAN middle class.
ExxonMobil provides energy (oil and gas) around the world to help underpin growing economies and improve living standards. It is the world’s largest publicly traded international oil and gas company. It uses innovation and technology to provide services, such as produce and sell crude oil, natural gas and petroleum products, etc. to the growing world. In 2017, the company acquired Jurong Aromatics Corporation’s Jurong Island plant- it is one of the largest aromatic facilities in the world with the production of ethylene capacity of 1.9 million tonnes each year. The company had completed its new grease and synthetic lubricants facilities in June 2017; the expansion of the Jurong lubricant plant the capability of the company has increased to meet the growing demand for grease and synthetic lubricants products in the region.
Challenges and Opportunities of the Chemical Industry in Singapore:
Challenges: Globalization process is the major challenge which is driving competition and cost pressure through various industrial worlds including the chemical industry. Every industry has lots of their own challenges whether we count in terms of energy management, improving productivity or ensuring the highest standard of safety, etc. In the chemical industry, automation and digitalization portfolio systems for energy management through the process of instrumentation and analytics to drive technology and industrial controls. An experienced and innovative partner aims to support to improve productivity, efficiency and flexibility of its customers in the petrochemical, base chemical, and speciality and fine chemical industries.
Opportunities: In recent years, technological advancement allowed companies to embrace the Internet of Things (IOTs). As Singapore sits in the heart of Asia, the world’s largest and fastest growing market for chemicals and the country is playing a significant role in the Energy and Chemicals industry. Megatrends required sophisticated yet cost-efficient chemicals according to Asia’s needs as per the growing middle class, rapid urbanisation, and climate change and water and food security. For grasping these opportunities, the country will have to diversify and upgrade its olefin derivative portfolio towards speciality chemicals and high value-added petrochemical products. Lubricant additives, oilfield and water chemicals, consumer care, agricultural chemicals and animal health and nutrition, as well as functional chemicals such as surfactants and functional polymers, are comprised in the focus end-markets. Other technology focus areas that will be explored are synthetic biology and industrial biotechnology.
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