SINGAPORE, Jan. 25 (UPI) -- With the opening of a $1.9 billion chemical plant, U.S. energy giant ExxonMobil Corp. has officially become Singapore's biggest foreign investor.
Mobil established its oil refinery business in Singapore in 1965, and Exxon Corp. followed with a refinery in 1969. Over the years, both companies have expanded their business interests in Singapore, with investments amounting to $3.8 billion, Deputy Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong said at Friday's opening of the new plant.
The plant, located on Jurong Island, will integrate upstream petroleum refining and downstream chemicals manufacturing, and will allow the company to take feedstock directly from its two refineries in Singapore.
The company began construction on the project in December 1998, when the region was in turmoil because of the Asian financial crisis.
"It was a bold step, reflecting the company's recognition of the tremendous growth potential in the Asia-Pacific region," said Lee.
In a bid to reassure foreign investors, Lee noted that since the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks, the government has reinforced "soft" infrastructure on the Jurong Island, introducing stringent and thorough checks on vehicles and people coming and going from the island.
A task force was created to study the island's future security needs, bearing in mind the need to strike a balance between safety and efficiency, he said.