Foreword & Messages

Foreword by Director, Energy & Chemicals, EDB

Director, Energy & Chemicals, EDBSingapore’s Energy and Chemicals industry has been a mainstay of our economy, dating back to pre-independence. Over the years, Singapore has developed an extensive chemicals value chain spanning from refining to olefins production, to chemicals manufacturing supported by innovation and research – all without producing a single drop of oil.

Today, Singapore has three refineries with a refining capacity of more than 1.3 million barrels a day and four crackers with an ethylene output capacity of four million tonnes per annum, which makes Singapore the world’s top fifth largest refinery export hub and amongst the top ten global chemical hubs by chemicals export volume.

In 2016, Energy & Chemicals recorded S$68.7 billion in total output, S$14.6 billion in value-added and employed over 28,400 people.

Singapore – a focal point for companies’ Asia growth strategy
Looking ahead, Singapore will play an increasingly significant role in the Energy & Chemicals industry, as it sits in the heart of Asia, the world’s fastest and largest growing market for chemicals. Megatrends such as the growing middle class, rapid urbanisation, climate change and water and food security will require sophisticated yet cost-efficient chemicals tailored to Asia’s needs.

Recognising these growth potential, Singapore has invested significantly in growing its specialty chemicals segments. Focus end-markets include lubricant additives, oilfield and water chemicals, consumer care, agricultural chemicals and animal health and nutrition, as well as functional chemicals such as surfactants and function polymers. Industrial biotechnology and synthetic biology are also technology focus areas that will be explored.

As a result, many specialty chemicals companies have since set up a base in Singapore, such as Afton, Croda, Evonik and Solvay.

Industry Transformation Map to ensure continued growth of the industry
To further support the growth of the specialty chemicals segment, Singapore launched the Energy & Chemicals Industry Transformation Map (ITM) in October 2017.

The ITM lays out a two prong strategy – firstly, to transform our existing base of chemicals manufacturing through the adoption of innovative technologies and secondly, to diversify into new growth markets and develop new innovation capabilities.

The latter will see Singapore working to strengthen its innovation ecosystem by building the necessary capabilities such as applied research or novel platform technologies to help companies accelerate and shorten innovation cycles. The government will work with leading players to develop domain knowledge in their labs in Singapore as well as support companies to adopt “open innovation” as a means to co-innovate and co-develop system solutions with their partners.

For example, EDB and A*STAR has embarked on a joint technology road mapping exercise to identify scientific and technological needs and gaps of companies, and then invest in developing them so as to support and foster companies’ innovation. The ITM targets at least 20 new or expanded application development centres by 2025, with an increase of S$55 million in business expenditure on research and development.

With the ITM as a strategic blueprint to guide the continued development of Singapore’s Energy & Chemicals industry, we are confident that companies will continue to find Singapore an attractive and competitive location for their Asia strategies.

Cindy Koh
Energy & Chemicals
Singapore Economic Development Board