ENERGY AND WATER IN SINGAPORE

ENERGY IN SINGAPORE

Electricity consumption doubled between 1995 and 2010, according to government figures, and long-term reliance on fossil fuels for energy is unlikely to change, given limited space for green energy such as solar. Some 80 percent of Singapore's power generation comes from natural gas, the cleanest of the fossil fuels, according to the Energy Market Authority. [Sources: Reuters, BBC]

In 2004 Singapore produced nearly 36.8 billion and consumed nearly 33.2 billion kilowatt-hours of electricity. Singapore produced no oil or natural gas but consumed an estimated 749,000 barrels per day in 2004 and 5.3 billion cubic meters in 2003, respectively. Although Singapore is 100 percent dependent on imports of oil and natural gas, it ranks as one of the world’s top three crude oil refining and trading hubs. Singapore’s crude oil refining capacity is estimated at 1.3 million barrels per day. However, India, Malaysia, and Thailand are challenging Singapore’s regional petroleum refining dominance. In keeping with government policy, natural gas usage is rising rapidly. By 2003 this relatively environmentally clean source of energy, carried by pipeline from neighboring Malaysia, accounted for 60 percent of electricity generation.

Singapore is a major oil refining and distribution center. It gets its energy supplies mostly from its neighbors Malaysia and Indonesia. In 1999, Singapore signed $4.6 billion deal with the Indonesia state oil monopoly Pertamina to supply gas for 22 years. Singapore has studied the use of nuclear power but is far from making a decision on the matter.

Singapore’s oil and gas are mainly supplied by Indonesia. Indonesia has long been the world’s No.3 exporter of liquefied natural gas, after Qatar and Malaysia. Indonesia’s state-owned power company is building more natural gas power plants, resulting in substantial growth in domestic natural gas consumption. To meet the needs of domestic growth, Indonesia intends to reduce gas exports to Singapore. To this end, Indonesia’s has requested modifications to existing gas supply contracts, not only to reduce the amount of gas, but also to increase gas prices. According to a 2001 gas supply contract, Indonesia is supposed to supply Singapore and Japan with 700 million standard cubic feet of natural gas until 2020. [Source: China manufacturer Factory blog, April 8, 2011]

Electricity - production: 45.37 billion kWh (2010 est.), country comparison to the world: 54. Electricity - consumption: 41.2 billion kWh (2010 est.), country comparison to the world: 53. Electricity - installed generating capacity: 10.47 million kW (2009 est.), country comparison to the world: 54. Electricity - from fossil fuels: 99.8 percent of total installed capacity (2009 est.) country comparison to the world: 48. [Source: CIA World Factbook =]

Crude oil - production and reserves: 0 bbl/day (2011 est.), country comparison to the world: 188. Crude oil - imports: 883,500 bbl/day (2009 est.), country comparison to the world: 13. Refined petroleum products - production: 1.357 million bbl/day (2011 est.), country comparison to the world: 18, Refined petroleum products - consumption: 1.25 million bbl/day (2011 est.), country comparison to the world: 20 Refined petroleum products - exports: 1.14 million bbl/day (2010 est.), country comparison to the world: 6. Refined petroleum products - imports: 1.348 million bbl/day (2010 est.), country comparison to the world: 5.

Natural gas - production and reserves: 0 cu m (2011 est.), country comparison to the world: 190. Natural gas - consumption: 8.778 billion cu m (2011 est.), country comparison to the world: 53. Natural gas - imports: 8.778 billion cu m (2011 est.), country comparison to the world: 28.

Pipelines: Singapore had 111 kilometers of natural gas pipelines in 2010.

Pampered Singaporeans Raise Fuss over Rare Power Blackout

In 2004, AFP reported: “Singaporeans, long accustomed to clockwork efficiency and first-world standards, turned a rare power blackout into a national talking point. as authorities launched an investigation. Callers jammed a talk-back radio program to air their opinions on the power outage that left large parts of the city-state without electricity for up to two hours. One listener said Singaporeans complain a lot because they are used to seamless services, while another said authorities should start considering the possibility of sabotage to pipelines carrying natural gas into the country from neighbouring Indonesia. [Source: Agence France Presse, June 30, 2004 \=\]

“The government's Energy Market Authority said the blackout -- described by a news report as the worst in a decade -- was caused by a disruption of the natural gas supply from Indonesia's West Natuna field. A spokeswoman for the authority said they were investigating the cause of the disruption, which affected 30 percent of electricity demand. Many mobile phone calls were futile during the blackout as telecommunications networks were affected, but some people creatively used their phones' lighted displays as torches in the dark. \=\

“Ivy Singh-Lim, president of the Singapore Netball Association, said she tried calling the police on two hotline numbers, but the lines were engaged. "Actually the police should have some kind of a backup to handle such emergencies. I can't believe this," she was quoted in the Straits Times as saying. Daisy Sum, who had to take a cold shower by candlelight at home, told the newspaper: "Singapore is not a Third World country. We have every right to expect better." Others took advantage of the blackout to have fun by lighting sparklers and playing with glow sticks.” \=\

Singapore Petroleum Company

Singapore Petroleum Company Limited (SPC,a PetroChina company) is a Singaporean oil company. SPC is involved in the exploration and production of petroleum, refining, trading and petroleum product distribution.The company was founded in 1969 as the Singapore Petroleum & Chemical Co. Pte Ltd and later changed its name to the Singapore Petroleum Company Ltd. The company is also a part owner of Singapore Refining Company Pte Ltd which was founded in 1979. [Source: Wikipedia +]

SPC's presence and profile in the regional E&P sector has grown with the acquisition of assets over the years. These assets include Block B in Cambodia, the Kakap Production Sharing Contract (PSC) and the Sampang PSC in Indonesia, Blocks 102 and 106, and Block 101-100/04 in Vietnam, Block T06-3 in Australia. In 2007, they expanded their assets to China with 3 additional blocks, 04/36 & 05/36 in Bohai Bay and Blk 26/28, offshore China. +

In the pipeline business, SPC holds interests in three regional gas transmission pipelines. The 654-kilometre West Natuna Transportation System is the first Singapore cross border sub-sea gas pipeline carrying gas from the West Natuna Sea to Singapore. A consortium of PSC blocks in West Natuna including the Kakap PSC owns this pipeline. The 468-kilometre Grissik-Batam-Singapore Pipeline is the second direct gas pipeline transmitting gas from Indonesia to Singapore. Gas to Singapore commenced in 2003 under a 20-year term contract between Singapore and Indonesia. The 536-kilometre Grissik-Duri Pipeline is a trunk line that transmit gas from the Grissik gas fields to Caltex's Duri facilities under long term contracts that commenced in 1998. +

SPC, with equal partner Caltex (part of Chevron Corporation), owns half of the 285,000 barrels per day (45,300 m3/d) Singapore Refining Company (SRC) plant, a complex refinery capable of cracking crude oil. The refining of crude oil to petroleum products remains central to the Group’s operations. Given the complexity of its refining facilities, SPC is able to refine heavy, medium and light crudes. SPC buys crudes from some 13 countries with the bulk of its supplies coming from the Middle East. The API gravity of these crudes range from 18 (mostly heavy/sour crude) to 45 (mostly light/sweet crudes). In 2006, the Group processed more than 51 million barrels (8,100,000 m3) of crudes through SRC, its jointly-owned refinery on Jurong Island. +

The Company owns a storage terminal for petroleum products at Pulau Sebarok to support its marine bunker operations and trading and marketing activities. The 220,000 cubic metres terminal consisting of 13 tanks is equipped with a deepwater jetty up to 160,000 tonnes displacement. The trading unit actively trades in a variety of distillate and residual products which include Naphtha, Gasoline, Automotive Diesel Oil, Jet Fuel and Fuel Oil. The Aviation Sales unit markets and supplies aviation fuel to airlines at four international airports in Singapore, Hong Kong, Bangkok, and Taipei. SPC is reputed as a reliable supplier of quality aviation fuel in the Asia-Pacific region with more than 30 years of aviation fuel sales and marketing expertise. The Distillates unit is responsible for the sales and trading of naphtha, motor gasoline (petrol), gasoil (diesel) and jet fuel (kerosene). +

In 2006, more than 74.1 million barrels (11,780,000 m3) of crude and refined petroleum products were handled by its downstream product channels. Of this volume, slightly more than 50.0 million barrels (7,950,000 m3) were products sourced directly from SRC with the balance of more than 24.0 million barrels (3,820,000 m3) sourced from the Group’s extensive network of oil majors, multinational oil traders and national oil companies. +

In September 2009, Chinese oil giant, PetroChina, a subsidiary of China National Petroleum Corp, indirectly became the sole owner of Singapore Petroleum Company Ltd, according to a statement released by PetroChina's board of directors. , PetroChina purchased a 50.7 percent stake in Singapore Petroleum, adding to a 45.51 percent stake PetroChina acquired on June 2009, and other stakes PetroChina and persons acting in concert had already bought. Singapore Petroleum Company or SPC was delisted from the Singapore Exchange in October 2009 when PetroChina completed its takeover of the Singapore firm. [Source: China Knowledge, September 7, 2009]

Singapore Want to Become the Asia-Pacific Oil Trading Center

Singapore hopes to become a trade center in Asia Pacific oil and gas. Singapore Gas Company (PowerGas) has built Singapore’s first liquefied natural gas receiving terminal in Jurong Island. It was expected to open in 2012. Jurong Island LNG terminal can handle 300 million tons of liquefied natural gas, with a plan to expand it in the future to a to 600 million tons. [Source: China manufacturer Factory blog, April 8, 2011]

With energy supplies from Malaysia and Indonesia becoming less secure, Singapore’s founding father Lee Kuan Yew pointed out that the purpose of the liquefied natural gas receiving terminal in Singapore is to buy Qatar, Egypt and Australia’s liquefied natural gas, and store it and and re-export it. To this end, Singapore set up the management of liquefied natural gas LNG receiving terminal. Singapore’s use of its geographical advantages which involved global markets, including Qatar, including the export of any oil and gas products can be sold to countries around the world.

In this context, the Qatar International Petroleum Marketing Company (Tasweeq) opened an office in Singapore. The company will use liquefied natural gas receiving terminal in Singapore, in Asia Pacific and liaison work related to business services, and vigorously sell oil and gas products. The company CEO said the market growth in order to meet the needs of the Asia-Pacific region.

Water and Singapore

Total renewable water resources: 0.6 cu km (2011). Freshwater withdrawal (domestic/industrial/agricultural): total: 0.19 cu km/yr (47 percent/53 percent/0 percent); per capita: 81.97 cu m/yr (2005). [Source: CIA World Factbook]

In spite of the high rainfall, Singapore's small size and dense population make it necessary to import water from Malaysia. The water, from reservoirs in upland Johor, comes through an aqueduct under the causeway linking Singapore with the Malaysian city of Johor Baharu. Singapore also supplies treated water to Johor Baharu, which in 1987 took about 14 percent of the 1 million cubic meters treated by Singapore each day. Singapore has responded to this dependence on a foreign country for water by expanding its reservoir capacity and constantly urging household and industrial users to conserve water. [Source: Library of Congress]

Singapore, Malaysia and Water

Singapore imports about half of the 300 million gallons of water it uses every day from Malaysia. The water comes in a pipe adjacent to the Singapore-Malaysia causeway over the kilometer- wide Johor Strait. According to an agreement in effect until 2011 Malaysia was obligated to supply Singapore with water unless the two countries went to war. The current contract expires in 2061. Kuala Lumpur wants a price increase, or to sell Singapore treated rather than raw water so it could reap more benefits from the deal. In 2003, Malaysia sold raw water to Singapore at three Malaysian sen (less than one cent) per 1000 gallons (4550 litres)

Ben Bland wrote in the Asia Sentinel, “When Singapore’s newest reservoir was opened this weekend, it was billed as the garden city’s latest leisure hub, designed to attract boaters and picnickers keen to escape the hectic pace of urban life. But the Marina Reservoir, the 15th to be built in Singapore and the first to be located in the city center, has a much more important role to play. It is the latest advance in the city-state’s drive to wean itself away from imported water from Malaysia and its concomitant political entanglements. In the process, Singapore has emerged as an unlikely world leader in water conservation, reclamation and desalination. [Source: Ben Bland, Asia Sentinel, November 6, 2008 /^\]

“It wasn't long before Tunku Abdul Rahman, Malaysia's first post-independence prime minister, was threatening to turn off the taps if Singapore pursued a foreign policy that was "prejudicial" to Malaysia's interests. Singapore's first post-independence leader and current Minister Mentor, Lee Kuan Yew, also said that he would have been prepared to send the troops in, if Malaysia had carried out an "act of madness" like cutting off the water. /^\

“As the imposing figures of Lee Kuan Yew and his long-time sparring partner, former Malaysian Prime Minister Mahathir Mohamad, begun to fade – neither is there yet – the tensions over water have dissipated somewhat. However, with the first water agreement set to expire in 2011 and no replacement deal in sight, the Singaporean government has moved ahead at a fearsome pace with its push to reduce its dependence on imported water. /^\

“Yet despite the apparent easing of tensions between Malaysia and Singapore over recent years, Lee Hsien Loong, Singapore’s current prime minister and Lee Kuan Yew's son, hinted at the importance of continuing to reduce the country’s reliance on Malaysian imports. "Through the concerted efforts and ingenuity of government agencies, and the full support and cooperation of the population, we have become more self-sufficient in water, and can become completely self-sufficient should we need to," he said. "We have also turned our vulnerability into a capability." /^\

Singapore-Malaysia Tussle Over Water

Relations between water-supplier Malaysia and Singapore have been strained many times in recent decades, and the two have bickered for years about the price that Singapore pays for Malaysian water. Malaysia periodically threatens to turn of the tap. In the early 2000s, Malaysia took out advertisements in newspapers, saying in effect that Singapore paid way too little for the water it used. Earlier a Malaysian general raised the possibility of putting chemical or biological poisons in Singapore’s water. “Malaysia should take full advantage of water as a strategic weapon to counter Singapore’s military advantage,” he said.

In 2003, Kavi Chongkittavorn wrote in The Nation, “Malaysia and Singapore have been bickering furiously in a tit-for-tat row over water supplies. When these two decided to wash their dirty linen in public, they must have realised the ugly consequences. Most Thais view this dispute as a family spat. After all, they used to be one nation.[Source: Kavi Chongkittavorn, The Nation, July 2003 *^*]

“When Singapore published a booklet in March titled "Water Talks, If Only It Could", Malaysia was furious. Kuala Lumpur viewed publication of the correspondence between Senior Minister Lee Kuan Yew and Prime Minister Mahathir Mohamad on the price negotiations as an attempt to undermine Mahathir's creditability. In this case, losing face is hard to bear when occasioned by a small but richer country. Since then, the water negotiations have become a war of attrition. It is no longer about price or fairness. It is about dignity and national pride. Unfortunately, perhaps, both countries have the resources and skills to wage this kind of campaign well into the future. Not to be outdone, Malaysia published a 20-page booklet titled "Water - The Singapore-Malaysia Dispute: The Facts." It was equally damaging because it is very direct and put the blame squarely on Singapore and its alleged selfishness. To compound the insult, the government sells the booklet at the symbolic price of US$0.01, which is the same price Singapore pays per 4,540 litres of untreated water from Malaysia. Furthermore, an aggressive media campaign by Kuala Lumpur is aimed at countering the so-called "misconceptions and allegations" made by Singapore.” In one advert, Malaysia claims that while Singapore made US$174.3 million (Bt7.3 billion) in profit from the raw water supplied by Malaysia in 2001, it paid compensation to Malaysia of just $629,000. *^*

“One factor that has complicated the negotiations is the persistent perception in Malaysia that Singapore is arrogant and aggressive. Singapore has argued with conviction that "international law and the sanctity of treaties voluntarily entered into by governments are the foundation of inter-state relations. Our very existence - and the existence of countries in similar situations - depends on such agreements being honoured." The island republic has made clear it doesn't mind discussing the price. But a question remains as to why Malaysia did not take the opportunity to review the water agreement and revise the price of its supplies to Singapore in 1987.” *^*

Singapore’s Drive to Become More Water-Sufficient

Ben Bland wrote in the Asia Sentinel, “When Singapore’s newest reservoir was opened this weekend, it was billed as the garden city’s latest leisure hub, designed to attract boaters and picnickers keen to escape the hectic pace of urban life. But the Marina Reservoir, the 15th to be built in Singapore and the first to be located in the city center, has a much more important role to play. It is the latest advance in the city-state’s drive to wean itself away from imported water from Malaysia and its concomitant political entanglements. In the process, Singapore has emerged as an unlikely world leader in water conservation, reclamation and desalination. [Source: Ben Bland, Asia Sentinel, November 6, 2008 /^\]

“Singapore still sources around half of its water from Malaysia and frequent disputes over the water supply have dogged relations between the two neighbors virtually since the two became independent countries. But after billions of dollars of investment into transforming its water supply, Singapore is getting ever closer to the day when it will become totally self-sufficient, finally kicking one of the most poisonous bilateral issues into the long grass.”/^\

"Singapore seems to be doing quite well and I think it will be self-sufficient within the next five-10 years," explained Chan Ngai Weng, a geography professor at Universiti Sains Malaysia who specializes in water supply issues. "If Singapore is able to do this, then there will be no problem between the two countries. Malaysia will lose some money but there will not be any issue any more." "I think it’s unlikely that there will be more problems between Malaysia and Singapore over water," added Kog Yue Choong, a Singaporean engineer and academic who has written on water security in Southeast Asia. "Many of the problems happened when Mahathir was in control but now the game has changed because the additional water sources Singapore has developed will reduce its vulnerability. " /^\

“Singapore's Public Utilities Board has spearheaded the campaign, investing S$4.9bn (US$3.3 billion) over the last five years alone in its four-pronged approach: increasing the area used to catch and store rainwater, recycling sewage to produce 'NEWater', building new desalination plants and working to reduce water usage. In 2005, the government opened the biggest desalination plant in Asia, delivering 110,000 cubic meters of desalinated seawater a day, enough to meet 10 percent of the country’s national water demand. “The Marina Reservoir, which was first suggested by then Prime Minister Lee Kuan Yew back in 1987, is a vital part of the plan. It will supply another 10 percent of Singapore's water needs and, together with two further reservoirs that are currently being built, it will expand the catchment area used to collect rainwater from half to two-thirds of the island’s land area. /^\

“With industrialization, urbanization and climate change all threatening to put ever greater pressure on water supplies in Asia and around the world, Singapore has positioned itself to capitalize on the demand for technological solutions to the growing water shortages. “More and more countries want to industrialize and the West is exporting pollutive industries to developing countries that don’t have the same capacity to deal with the problem,” noted Dr Kog. “Water supplies are increasingly being polluted and with global warning, it will be a big problem that may develop to an extent that it rivals the issue of oil.”/^\

“Australia, where farmers have been hit by severe droughts over recent years, is already looking at Singapore’s NEWater as a possible solution to its woes. More importantly, India and China, which have been developing at a lightning pace, are facing serious water crises in the coming years. The growing water shortages are a massive threat to China, where the World Bank estimates that more than half of the 660 cities are already facing supply issues, but a big opportunity for Singapore. Companies that honed their expertise in water technology while working on Singapore’s own water problems, such as Hyflux and Keppel, have expanded into China, where the World Bank has argued that billions of dollars more must be invested to head off a major water crisis.” /^\

Singapore Turns to Sewage Water to Reduce Dependance on Malaysian Water

Singapore is trying to be less dependent on Malaysia for water by recycling more waste water and desalinizing seawater. Singapore is is a leader in water conservation. Singapore operates a reverse-osmosis desalinization plant that can generate drinking water from sea water. It mixes 1 percent treated wastewater with 99 percent fresh water in it reservoirs.

Singapore gets a great deal of water from recycled sewage using a sytem called NEWater. To convince Singaporeans the water was fine Prime Minister Goh Chok Tong was photographed drinking some after playing tennis and free bottles of it were given on the streets. Many jokes were made about the water but many said it tasted better than the usual chlorinated tap water.

In 2004, the Wall Street Journal reported: “Water-scarce Singapore will, by 2006, meet more than 10 percent of its daily water needs by recycling sewage, a minister said as he opened a third purification plant. "Our challenge is to make sure that every drop of water, every dollar invested in water supply and sanitation, and every idea related to water management is put to best use," Environment Minister Lim Swee Say said. The concerted drive toward self-sufficiency in the basic product is a high government priority in the tiny island nation that imports half of its water from Malaysia, its northern neighbor. The liquid dependence has contributed to the long-standing belief among Singapore's leaders that the city-state is vulnerable, and that it should tap fresh sources to try and meet its own water requirements. [Source: Wall Street Journal, June 18, 2004]

Singapore started recycling its waste water into drinkable water on a large scale in 2003, dubbing the output "NEWater." Lim said two recycling plants were opened in 2003, and the third was inaugurated in June 2004, taking daily combined output to 76 million liters. A fourth NEWater plant will be completed in 2006, he said. "In 2006, the total production of NEWater will exceed 10 percent of our total daily water demands," Lim said.

The reclaimed water is supplied to factories to meet industrial needs, and mixed with freshwater reservoirs that feed the city-state's water-supply network. Singapore has also announced plans to reclaim pure water from the sea with a desalinization plant. Lim said engineers will construct a barrage in the south of the island to form a new rainwater reservoir, which will complement the half-dozen already in use. Ministers have campaigned hard to dispel the idea that NEWater is less than clean because of its origins.

In December 2003, AFP reported: “Singapore, always in search of creative ways to bring in tourist dollars, has unveiled a new attraction -- a high-tech plant which makes sewer water potable. The plant's multi-media visitor center showcases the city-state's efforts to be more self-reliant in water and has become such a hit that the government has decided to put it on the tourist map. The center welcomed its 100,000th visitor, just 10 months after its opening, and tour operators now offer it as a must-see for tourists, along with more familiar places like the Singapore Zoo and Raffles Hotel. The plant purifies waste water into "NEWater" using membrane filters, osmosis and ultraviolet light. NEWater was first used commercially in wafer fabrication plants which require impurity-free water to produce semiconductors, and is gradually being pumped into reservoirs as part of the drinking water supply. The government's Public Utilities Board said in a statement that the NEWater visitor center aims to teach people "how precious water is and why we should not waste water."[Source: Agence France Presse, December 5, 2003]

Singaporeans Water Conservation Effort and Water Desalination Plant

In June 2000, AFP reported: “Singaporeans were urged to conserve water amid ongoing efforts to seek alternative sources and reduce the city-state's reliance on Malaysia for it. "Even though there is enough clean water for every person, factory, restaurant and so on here in Singapore today, we should never take the supply of clean water for granted," Lim Swee Say, Minister of State for Trade and Industry said in his opening address at the Clean Water Forum. "We need to step up our water conservation efforts, and make sure that every precious drop counts," he added. [Source: Agence France Presse, June 28, 2000]

Total water consumption by residences and industries amounts to more than 400 million cubic metres (14 billion cubic feet) of water a year, he said. Authorities would continue to protect scarce water resources from pollution, search for viable sources of water supply and spearhead the national desalination program, Lim said. "One increasingly important approach is to leverage on advanced technologies to expand our options in water sourcing and water purification," he said.

In January 2003, AFP reported: “A consortium made up of local water treatment specialist Hyflux and Ondeo of France has been awarded the contract to build Singapore's first desalination plant, the government. The plant, which is expected to start operations by the second-half of 2005, will provide the resource-scarce island with another alternative source to meet its water needs, the Public Utilities Board (PUB) said in a statement. "With advancements in desalination technologies and improvement in energy efficiency, desalinated water has now become another viable source of water supply for Singapore," PUB chairman Tan Gee Paw said. [Source: Agence France Presse, January 19, 2003]

The plant is capable of supplying 136,000 cubic metres (4.76 million cubic feet) of water daily, the PUB said but it gave no details on the cost of building the plant or the value of the contract awarded. Each cubic metre of desalinated water is expected to cost about 78 Singapore cents (45 US cents), according to the winning consortium in its bid for the project. The construction of a desalination plant is part of the city-state's plan to reduce its water dependence on neighbouring country Malaysia, which supplies half of Singapore's daily water needs. [Ibid]

Image Sources:

Text Sources: New York Times, Washington Post, Los Angeles Times, Times of London, Lonely Planet Guides, Library of Congress, Singapore Tourism Board, Compton’s Encyclopedia, The Guardian, National Geographic, Smithsonian magazine, The New Yorker, Time, Newsweek, Reuters, AP, AFP, Wall Street Journal, The Atlantic Monthly, The Economist, Foreign Policy, Wikipedia, BBC, CNN, and various books, websites and other publications.

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© 2008 Jeffrey Hays

Last updated June 2015

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