Saturday, September 26, 2009

Carving more routes to Jurong Island

JTC to build new road link and barging terminal for energy and chemical firms

JURONG Island will be getting a new road link and barging terminal to support its growing energy and chemicals cluster.

Industrial landlord JTC Corporation unveiled these new projects yesterday as it celebrated the end of reclamation works on the island – 21 years ahead of schedule.

Jurong Island was formed by merging seven southern offshore islands with a total land mass of 991ha. Reclamation began in 1995 and was targeted for completion in 2030. But JTC sped up the project as demand for land on Jurong Island surged and exceeded expectations.

In 2000, there were 61 petrochemical companies which had invested $21 billion on the island. Today, there are 95 firms which have poured in over $31 billion into fixed assets.

Jurong Island spans 3,000ha and companies have fully taken up land on its east side. There are ’small pockets’ of land left in the western part of the island and ‘many investors are very keen to come here’, JTC chairman Cedric Foo told the press on the sidelines of the event. Investments will grow ‘probably at a good pace. . . My estimate is, probably no worse than the historical average’.

The economic downturn had forced some companies such as Tuas Power to postpone projects on Jurong Island. Mr Foo said that some firms may be resuming the projects, though he did not identify them.

To anchor more investments, JTC will continue to improve infrastructure on Jurong Island. It has finished a preliminary study on building another road from the mainland for the growing working population – some 38,000 people pass through the island’s checkpoint daily.

The agency will need to iron out details such as the position and cost of the second link, which could be completed by 2017.

ExxonMobil Chemical manufacturing director (Singapore chemical plant) Derk Jan Hartgerink welcomed the news. ‘There is a lot of traffic coming to the island, the industry is growing. . . Sooner or later the second link has to be built.’

JTC will also be building a barging terminal on the western part of the island. The first phase of the project will be ready by 2011 and it will give chemical companies another way to transport products. The option is particularly useful because there are only a few roads trucks carrying hazardous materials can use to get to the island.

To boost security on Jurong Island, JTC will also introduce a biometric access system at the checkpoint. It is assessing various technologies and will award the tender for the project by the end of the year. The system should be completed by 2011.

Trade and Industry Minister Lim Hng Kiang was also speaking at the event yesterday. ‘We will continue to find ways to adjust the Jurong Island profile to bring about stronger integration and greater operating efficiencies,’ he said.

‘We intend to achieve a critical mass of feedstock, move to higher value chemical chains which produce specialty chemicals and advanced materials, and bring in partner companies in developing new chemical products.’

Companies on Jurong Island accounted for 80 per cent of the energy and chemical industry manufacturing output, Mr Lim said.

Source: Business Times, 26 Sep 2009

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