Home to more than 100 leading global petroleum, petrochemical and specialty chemical companies, Jurong Island remains the centerpiece of the chemical industry in Singapore. Coupled with its political and socio-economic stability, as well as extensive connectivity to regional and global markets, this has cemented Singapore’s position as one of the world’s leading energy and chemical hubs ranked among the top 10 globally1.
Singapore’s success as a major trading port is buttressed by its extensive network of Free Trade Agreements brought into fore. Japan was Singapore’s first major trading partner with the inking of the New-Age Economic Partnership (JSEPA) in 2002. Japan was also Singapore’s third largest investor as of end-2018, while Singapore was Japan’s top Asian and 4th largest foreign direct investor2.
With economies grappling with their post-COVID-19 recovery, Singapore is no exception. While Singapore’s economy progresses into its recovery phase amidst the pandemic, the focus on sustainable development has remained consistent during this period.
“The petrochemical sector has embraced the sustainability challenge and has made substantial strides in increasing energy efficiency, while reducing emissions. We are also committed to supporting the Singapore government’s goal to drive plastics circularity and move towards becoming a zero-waste nation, and will continue to play a key role in contributing to the development of mechanical and chemical recycling capabilities that will help transform plastic waste into useful products and even alternative fuel,” said Mr. Wim Roels, Chairman of Singapore Chemical Industry Council Limited.
In addressing climate change challenges, Singapore has launched various initiatives including the Zero Waste Masterplan, Smart Nation Initiative, the Industry Transformation Map as well as the Green Plan 2030 that was announced recently this year.
Launched in 2014, the Smart Nation Initiative seeks to transform Singapore through technology into a leading economy powered by digital innovation. Aligned to that, Singapore’s manufacturing base has been gearing up to adopt the Industry 4.0 model. This is to enable digitalization and automation of its processes to enhance its efficiency and long-term competitiveness on the global stage.
The Energy & Chemicals (E&C) Industry Transformation Map (ITM) has charted out plans to have more chemical plants adopt advanced manufacturing technologies in areas such as refining petrochemicals and specialty chemical activities, with the industry is expected to create S$12.7 billion in value-add and 1,400 new jobs by 20253.
As the industry undergoes a rapid transition, the Productivity Council (PC) at SCIC continues to actively support the labor productivity initiatives to materialize the Process Construction and Maintenance (PCM) Transformation Roadmap 2021 together with the PCM partners. The E&C plant owners, PCM partners, Government agencies and Trade associations in the PC had played an integral role in successfully rolling out various productivity initiatives. These included the launch of the world’s first Productivity Certification Framework (PCF) in 20194, Mechanization Tools Database and Craft Productivity Standards (CPS). The PCF employs a data-driven approach to measure, analyze, and manage productivity in the field. The objective of the PCF is to continuously improve field labor productivity, enhance craft workers’ capabilities and accelerate the adoption of mechanized tools to reduce industry’s reliance on foreign labor. Together, the industry is committed to make a concerted effort through various productivity improvement initiatives to elevate Singapore’s productivity to attract investments.
“Digitalization has become an integral part of the industry’s transformation. It involves almost every aspects of our organization; our process plants, our operations and our people. The pandemic has helped to escalate our digital transformation pace and changed our conventional ‘business as usual’ approach in managing our business operation. The Singapore Energy & Chemical sector has to be future ready to preserve our competitiveness,” said Mr. Terence Koh, Executive Director of Singapore Chemical Industry Council Limited
With the chemical industry accounting for close to a third of our domestic manufacturing output, this reaffirms the industry’s role in positioning Singapore to grapple with the challenges that the future might hold. Beyond its economic considerations, the industry serves as a critical intermediator in supporting the production of necessities to our daily lives as well as in the provision of solutions to sustainability issues as it moves in tandem with the world’s population growth.