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Times 17 Jul 07
Under study - storing oil out at sea
Use of large floating platforms could ease space crunch at Jurong Island
By Ronnie Lim
A VERY large platform, floating on the sea, may serve to store oil and take the pressure off Jurong Island's limited land space.
Such floating platforms - if they do find their place in the sun - would also maximise the use of Singapore's water frontage. The Republic is looking at the feasibility of building such offshore oil storage, BT has learnt.
Freeing up the storage space could allow Jurong Island's fast-depleting land to be used more for petrochemical complexes, chemical plants and oil refineries.
Sources said that the idea to build very large floating storage (VLFS) platforms anchored out at sea is being examined by agencies under the Trade and Industry Ministry, including JTC Corporation and the Economic Development Board.
The project is believed to be still in its early stages. 'We are looking at it from various aspects, including the technical as well as commercial and financial viability,' one source said.
In anticipation of the use of VLFS here, the NUS Centre for Offshore Research and Engineering is looking at the modelling, analysis and design of VLFS and their mooring and control systems.
Feasibility studies are also underway on a floating desalination plant, a super-large floating container terminal, a floating oil storage/bunkering facility and an offshore floating mooring facility, an Internet search by BT showed.
Those involved in the studies include Jurong Consultants Pte Ltd, the Maritime and Port Authority of Singapore, the Shipbuilding Research Centre of Japan and Kyoto University.
Japan already has two major floating oil storage systems at Shirashima and Kamigato. There, the VLFS are constructed like flat, box- shaped tankers parked side by side.
They form an ideal oil storage facility, with the explosive, inflammable oil kept away from the populated areas on land.
The move to study VLFS here also follows a recent influx of independent oil terminal projects on Jurong Island, including the $750 million Universal Terminal being built by Singapore's largest oil trader Hin Leong Trading and Chinese oil giant PetroChina.
Other major storage projects coming up include Emirates National Oil Company's joint venture Horizon Terminal and Chemoil's Helios Terminal.
The oil terminals support the vibrant oil trading activity in Singapore, the world's third-largest oil trading hub after New York and London.
Last year, the Republic handled about US$300 billion of physical oil trades, and over US$275 billion of paper trades. JTC Corp itself is also spearheading the building of an underground oil storage at Jurong Island. Its $700 million first phase is expected to be ready in 2010.
Industry sources appeared to think that land on Jurong Island 'will now be slated more for manufacturing use, rather than just pure storage purposes; any new storage project should ideally be linked to manufacturing activity'.
As such, the building of offshore VLFS for Singapore will meet the demand for oil storage by the ever-growing oil trading community here, whose ranks have been swelled by the influx of financial institutions and banks.
These include the likes of Morgan Stanley which is preparing to ramp up its physical oil trades here by leasing storage space at the Jurong Island terminals.
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