"With an ambitious target to double the business in the next decade and become net zero by 2040, we want to accelerate growth in chemicals, gases and new energies."
Could you share with our audience what has motivated the step-out of Advario from Oiltanking Group, and what assets have been transferred to Advario?
BV: As Oiltanking celebrated its 50th anniversary in 2022, we re-envisioned our strategy by looking at the key megatrends shaping the world today. We arrived at three: The first is the growing notion that climate change calls for urgent action from across the value chain. The second one encompasses the energy transition and, with it, the flow of products shifting from fossil fuels into renewables and new energies. And thirdly, ESG has become the way of doing business as well as a defining competitive advantage, whether it is about attracting talent or financing. Based on these reflections, we decided we need to change too. Advario is a carve-out from the Oiltanking Group, retaining 1,200 people, 13 strategic terminals around the world – in the US, Europe, Middle East, Singapore, and China, and has a capacity of 8 million m3 of storage. With an ambitious target to double the business in the next decade and become net zero by 2040, we want to accelerate growth in chemicals, gases, and new energies.
Could you elaborate on your growth strategy in chemicals, gases, and new energies? How will this apply to Singapore?
BV: Advario aims to play an enabling role in the energy transition. Of course, this cannot be done alone; a successful energy transition will depend on successful partnerships. As part of our growth strategy, we have three priorities: To grow the business through both brownfield investments as well as greenfield projects and M&A; to maximize the value of our existing assets by driving operational and financial efficiencies and future-proof our assets, for instance by increasing the share of sustainable products that we store, like biofuels, and soon also hydrogen and hydrogen derivatives; (and) to drive sustainability leadership, by supporting our customers to reduce their CO2 footprint. In Singapore, we already initiated a project to drive down GHG emissions at our terminal, and this pilot could be a blueprint for other locations. We also enjoy excellent relationships with Jurong Island players as well as with the EDB and Singaporean government, and we are pleased to see the country’s proactiveness in approaching the energy transition.
Advario is assessing the feasibility of developing the first e-methanol plant in Singapore together with industry partners. What made Singapore a preferred location for this project?
SC: Uniquely placed to tap into both Eastern and Western markets, Singapore’s success has been built on partnerships, consolidation, and a very attractive business environment. It is this ecosystem that has allowed industries to prosper and innovate, and that has facilitated Advario’s forward-looking projects. Together with a consortium of companies that include Industry leaders in technology, energy and shipping, we aim to establish the first e-methanol plant in Asia, with a start in 2023 when all feasibility studies have been concluded. Singapore has the right ecosystem for such technology projects due to its progressive governance as well as strong IP protection allowing innovation to take place and scale up.
LNG is growing its appeal as a bunkering fuel. Can you comment on the opportunities you see in this market, given that Advario is considering developing an LNG storage facility in Singapore?
SC: LNG is not only central to Singapore’s energy security but also in bunkering, with LNG bunkering being the next step towards decarbonization. For the last 25 years, Singapore has been the world’s biggest bunkering hub, accounting today for about 50 million tons out of the 300 mt global capacity. It is a natural progression for Singapore to move into LNG bunkering, followed by methanol, and even ammonia in the near future. LNG bunkering started a few years ago and we have seen an uptick in demand. With our project at the Helios terminal, we are enabling the bunkering market to introduce LNG on a much bigger scale.
Could you comment on the current demand trends and how you think inflation may impact these?
BV: Fundamentally, demand for chemicals, and gases, including LNG, remains strong, led by APAC, even as LNG trade flows are being redirected to circumvent Russia. Meanwhile, demand for new energies (and particularly biodiesels) is growing exponentially, despite the possibility that many projects will not mature until the end of the decade. Even if there is a current risk that price spikes could suppress demand, the long-term fundamentals are unlikely to be changed by these deviations caused by inflation.
SC: Zooming into a Singaporean perspective, I can add that we are in a region of growth, with a young, dynamic, and highly aspirational population. The demand in APAC is very much consumer-driven and has a huge upside. The paradox that demand for energy continues to grow together with the expectation to cut down emissions is pushing the industry to evolve. We see heightened demand for products with longer lifespans, made of bio- or recyclable materials, or have another ESG angle, whereas demand for traditional product types is more static. This change pushes growth in specific products, with standout examples like propylene derivatives (growing at 6%/year), base oils used to improve engine performance (growing at 4-5%/year), and sustainable fuels (growing by about 5%/year). We are very proud to be ingrained in the supply chain of each of these markets in Singapore.
Do you have a final message?
BV: We are at an exciting but also critical time in history. It is clear to everybody that climate change is happening. As an industry, we need to drive positive change for future generations, by forming what I would call coalitions of the willing. Advario has made a firm decision to be at the front end of the energy transition and work together with all stakeholders to develop solutions for the future.
SC: That Singapore is the world’s fifth-largest integrated refinery complex, and one of the ten highest exportable chemical markets, is no mean feat. We are thankful that Oiltanking, and now Advario, has the opportunity to play a key role in Singapore’s growth story over the past 30 years. Today, we are on the cusp of change, and we are positioned to be an enabler of this change by transforming ourselves and our assets.