SINGAPORE, Jan. 8 (UPI) -- Exxon Mobil has inaugurated a petrochemical processing facility in Singapore on the island of Jurong.
The facility is part of the expansion of an existing chemical plant that was built in 2002 and currently accounts for about a quarter of Exxon Mobil's global chemical capacity.
Exxon Mobil Chairman and Chief Executive Officer Rex W. Tillerson, speaking at the plant inauguration Wednesday, said global chemical demand would grow faster than gross domestic product expansion as living standards continue to rise and people purchase more household and packaged goods manufactured with chemical products.
"Two-thirds of that growth in chemical demand will be here in the Asia-Pacific region," Tillerson said. "Exxon Mobil's expanded Singapore chemical plant is uniquely positioned to serve these growth markets -- from China to the Indian subcontinent and beyond."
Exxon Mobil says the facility incorporates more than 40 new proprietary technologies and is designed to be one of the company's most energy efficient sites.
A report in the Financial Times Wednesday noted the plant will be able to take certain kinds of crude oil as feedstock for the cracking process without the need for prior refining.
Typically, petrochemicals are produced in Asia from refined oil products such as naphtha at facilities known as steam crackers.
"Converting crude directly into chemicals has several advantages over processing naphtha, the standard feedstock in Asia. It lowers feedstock costs, and it saves energy and reduces emissions by eliminating the refining steps needed to produce naphtha," Stephen Pryor, president of Exxon Mobil Chemical, was quoted as saying by the Times.
The Asian city-state's strategic location between the Indian and Pacific Oceans has helped it become one of Asia's major petrochemical and refining hubs. Singapore supplies a third of Southeast Asia's fuel.
Although it is known for its refining, storage and distribution infrastructure, Singapore has no domestic oil reserves and must import all its crude oil.
Singapore Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong, also speaking at the Exxon Mobil plant inauguration, said the government is committed to helping energy and petrochemical companies succeed in the city-state.
"The Singapore government stands fully behind them and will continue to help them to succeed," Channel News Asia quoted Lee as saying. "These companies, including Exxon Mobil, depend on us to maintain a predictable environment for their investments to succeed over the long term."
Leo Yip, chairman of the Singapore Economic Development Board, noting Exxon Mobil's plant expansion represents "the largest manufacturing investment in Singapore's history," said it was "testament to our ability to successfully attract and execute complex mega-projects."