Oronite Mulls Singapore Expansion


Chevron Oronite Co. LLC has begun studying the expansion of detergent production capacity at its Jurong Island manufacturing site in Singapore. The detergents are used in lubricant additives.

Andy Tugendhat, vice president, sales, Chevron Oronite, told Lube Report that the company, which is in the early phase of the study, believes it has adequate raw materials in the area to support an expansion. The detergents produced by an expansion would remain oriented towards lubricant additives only, Tugendhat added.

This is a pretty modest expansion were looking at, he said. There would be no unusual operations required for building it. It will have the typical requirements when tie-ins are needed, but that is a reasonably small event. Normal operations would continue.

Tugendhat emphasized that Singapore is the companys primary supply point for the Asia-Pacific region.

This is building upon our world-scale plant in Singapore that not only can supply the entire A-P region, but is also an integral part of our overall global supply network, he said. While its not targeting any specific market, the impetus of looking strongly at Singapore as the location for any expansion is related to the fact that Asia is really the primary growth market in the lubricant or lubricant additives business.

Commissioned in 1999,Oronites Singapore plant produces a full range of detergents, dispersants and inhibitors for blending into finished products that are supplied to customers in Asia as well other customers and supply points globally.

The plant made headlines when an explosion occurred there in March 2005, forcing the company to reduce operations for several months. The supply constraints had some impact because the facility is the largest lube additive plant in Asia, and one of three primary Oronite manufacturing facilities around the world.Oronite has since taken a number of steps to regain full global operations, by increasing inventories, establishing supply-chain redundancies and keeping open a plant in Maua, Brazil that was scheduled to be shut.

Tugendhat said the company tentatively plans to make a decision on whether to proceed with the detergent manufacturing project sometime in the second half of 2007. If the expansion goes forward, he said, construction would likely start in early 2008, with a targeted completion date in 2009.

Tugendhat explained that the companys primary focus for detergents is the marine market, which continues to show growth.

For example, total detergent demand globally for automotive applications is not going up, he said. So from a global perspective, our focal area is the marine market. But these components are flexible for use within various applications.

Tugendhat stressed that the quest for supplier reliability drives the expansion study more so than growth. One of the things were really focused on as a company right now, because our customers are focused on it, is reliability in supply from a global perspective, he said. This study were doing for the expansion is not just about growth; its making sure we have additional supplier reliability in the supply chain.

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