Singapore to transform Jurong Island into a sustainable energy and chemicals park

SINGAPORE – Singapore’s Jurong Island oil hub will be transformed into an energy and chemicals park that operates sustainably and exports its sustainable products globally, said Minister for Trade and Industry Gan Kim Yong on Tuesday (Nov 23).

The plan also envisages Singapore’s energy and chemical (E&C) sector increasing its output of sustainable products by four times from 2019 levels, as well as achieving more than six million tonnes of carbon abatement per annum from low-carbon solutions by 2050.

Mr Gan announced the Sustainable Jurong Island plan at the groundbreaking ceremony of a Shell plant on Pulau Bukom that will turn hard-to-recycle plastic waste into an oil used as a feedstock for petrochemicals.

The pyrolysis oil upgrader unit will be the first such plant globally for the Dutch oil major and is slated to start production in 2023.

It will also be the largest such plant in Asia, with a capacity to produce 50,000 tonnes per annum of the oil – equivalent to the weight of about 7.8 billion plastic bags.

The Sustainable Jurong Island plan is part of government plans to pivot the E&C sector here towards sustainability, the Singapore Economic Development Board (EDB) said in a report on Tuesday. It builds on ambitions for Jurong Island that were first announced in the Green Economy pillar of the Singapore Green Plan 2030.

Mr Gan said the E&C sector, which employs over 27,000 people, including many Singaporeans, is in the midst of a transition towards lower-carbon fuels, renewables and sustainable chemicals.

“For example, both Shell and BP have announced that they would write down up to US$17.5 billion ($23.9 billion) and US$22 billion from their oil and gas portfolios respectively, as part of their net-zero emissions target for 2050,” he said.

He said the Sustainable Jurong Island plan will build on these ongoing efforts.

The plan is centred around two focus areas – increasing the output of sustainable products such as bio-based fuels and chemicals and enabling sustainable production to reduce carbon emissions and pollution.

Mr Gan said; “By 2030, we have set a target for the E&C sector to increase the output of sustainable products by 1.5 times from 2019; house refineries and crackers that are top quartile in the world in terms of energy efficiency; and realise at least two million tonnes of carbon capture potential.”

He said the Agency for Science, Technology and Research, EDB and JTC Corporation are working together to study the potential of a carbon capture and utilisation (CCU) translational test bed on Jurong Island.

CCU refers to the process of capturing carbon dioxide (CO2) emissions from sources such as power or oil refining plants and either reusing or storing it so it will not enter the atmosphere.

(From left) Mr Huibert Vigeveno, downstream director, and Minister Gan Kim Yong wearing 3D goggles to view a visualisation of Shell’s first pyrolysis oil upgrader unit, on Nov 23, 2021. ST PHOTO: JASON QUAH

Mr Gan said the Resource Efficiency Grant for Energy and the Investment Allowance for Emissions Reduction schemes will also be enhanced to support additional forms of emissions reduction activities such as CCU and storage, in addition to energy efficiency improvements and the reduction of non-CO2 greenhouse gases.

Ms Aw Kah Peng, chairman of Shell Companies in Singapore, said Shell’s energy and chemicals park in Singapore “is a key driver in our strategy to transform our business, reduce our own emissions and those of our customers as we move to a low-carbon economy”.

“The transformation that we are embarking on is unprecedented for the industry here,” she added.

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Shell will use pyrolysis oil to produce circular chemicals that make hundreds of useful, everyday products, from tyres to mattresses.

It has already signed its first circular chemicals agreement in Asia with Asahi Kasei, a multinational Japanese chemical company.

Last year, Shell announced a plan to cut back its refinery portfolio from 14 sites to six energy and chemicals parks. One of them is the Shell Energy and Chemicals Park Singapore.

Mr Gan Kim Yong speaking with Shell employees ahead of the groundbreaking ceremony for the company’s first pyrolysis oil upgrader unit, on Nov 23, 2021. ST PHOTO: JASON QUAH

Shell’s global director for its downstream business, Mr Huibert Vigeveno, said his company’s target is to be a net-zero emissions business by 2050, in step with society’s progress towards the goal of the 2015 Paris Agreement and Singapore’s Green Plan.

“These so-called circular chemicals are a significant step in tackling waste, and I am very proud to be here today with you to bring this project to life,” he said.

Dr Beh Swan Gin, EDB chairman, said the agency will work with the E&C industry here to develop sustainable solutions for Singapore and beyond.

“The global energy transition presents an opportunity for companies on Jurong Island to transform and innovate as they navigate towards a low carbon future,” he said.

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