Jurong island is the heart of Singapore’s petrochemical industry, and is home to some of the largest petroleum and chemical companies in the world. Singlehandedly, it enables the nation to compete as a major player in the industry despite having no crude oil deposits of its own. Located off the south west coast of Singapore, opposite Jurong Industrial estate, the island is connected to the mainland via a 2.3 kilometre long bridge. Today, Jurong Island is the largest of the islands that lie off Singapore proper, but that is a recent phenomenon, and as an island there is a lot more to it than initially meets the eye.
As recently as the 1960’s the area now occupied by today’s island was made up of 8 small islands, many home to stilted fishing villages. Gradually, these islands, via land reclamation, were joined together, until with the completion of the main project in 2009 (a full twenty years ahead of schedule), they became the Jurong Island we know today. Or not quite. Subsequent reclamation work has further pushed its coastline into the sea, and today the island covers a total area of 32 square kilometres, or 3,200 hectares.
From the beginning, the concept of the island was for it to be an integrated chemical hub, with plants forming different parts of chemical processes being linked to one another in what are termed as clusters. This saves massively on both the initial expenditure, and on subsequent transport costs – 30% and 15% respectively. As far as possible, the island is self sufficient, with its own infrastructure (utilities, logistics, power and telecommunications), dormitories for its workers and Oasis@Sakra – an amenities centre which includes a popular food court. Jurong Island even boasts its own IT network and platform, that can be accessed by all resident companies.
As you would expect, safety is the top priority (and the reason that it is kept separate from the mainland), and there are two fire stations and a medical clinic on the island. As well as the road network there is a complex network of pipelines all with distinct functions. The most impressive of these is a 640 kilometre pipe that connects Jurong Island with Indonesia, and from where it gets its natural gas. A system of coloured pipes carry water around the island and to each site (red for firefighting, while green carry sea water used in cooling systems). Others link different companies, taking the by product of one process directly to another company where it is used in a completely different process.
Finally, the island has recently undergone further expansion, but this time downwards, with the construction of immense underground caverns, hewn out of the rock. Each of the 9 storage facilities (used for among other things liquid hydrogen, crude oil and gas oil) is capable of housing 1300 buses, and are 150 metres below the surface.
- Though it is predominantly a petrochemical facility, there are plans in the future to increase the production of higher value products on the island to ensure it retains its competitive edge. There is also a push to switch to greener fossil fuels, in an attempt to have less impact on the environment.
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