31 August 2007
Singapore faces stiff competition from regional biofuel refining hubs
As the region ramps up biofuel production, Singapore will be well-placed to compete for refinery contracts, but will face competition from producer countries eager to develop integrated biofuel value chains, such as Malaysia, Indonesia and India.
As a successful petrochemical hub in Asia and the world’s third largest oil refining center, Singapore has set its sights on diversifying its portfolio of refining activities to include bio-diesel refining.
However, other countries in the region are giving the island Republic a run for its money (see Table 1).
According to Spire’s research, most refinery sites are selected based on access to production inputs and excellent infrastructure. Many Asia-Pacific biofuel players, for instance in Australia, choose to invest in their country of domicile.
Global players, however, prefer to plant their refinery seeds in several geographies.
Spire interviewed bio-diesel producers on refinery site selection in Asia. Highlights of the findings include:
Regional countries which have a comprehensive plan to develop biofuel refineries include India, China, Indonesia and Malaysia. These countries may have the advantage of being able to build integrated value chains from crop cultivation to refining. To stay ahead, Singapore will need to leverage its established fossil fuel logistics sector, its existing refinery base and above all its government’s ability to act quickly and invest in infrastructure ahead of demand.
In the face of stiff competition, Mr Julian Ho, Executive Director, Energy, Chemicals and Engineering Services Cluster at Singapore’s Economic Development Board, says: “Moving forward, EDB will be focused on 2G biofuel. By 2G biofuel, we refer to technology beyond the traditional trans-esterification process which will produce higher quality biofuel….As most of the 2G biofuel technologies are quite new and in the developmental stages, we are encouraging companies to conduct biofuel R&D and set up biofuel pilot plants in Singapore.”
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