Recently I was in Asia visiting key government officials in China and Indonesia with our Advanced Fuel Technologies (AFT) team. At the end of the trip, I stopped by our Singapore Acetyl facility on Jurong Island. The plant has been in the spotlight recently. Industry conditions and a challenging feedstock position have necessitated the temporary idling of the acetic acid unit. My objectives in visiting the site were focused on our people.
Historically Singapore served as our initial gateway to the East. We launched production in 1997 with vinyl acetate monomer (VAM) and now also produce acetic acid, ethyl acetate and butyl acetate. The plant has a rich history of process and safety excellence and has been a cornerstone of the Celanese production network.
Recently, a combination of factors, including a significant increase in the cost of carbon monoxide derived from fuel oil, have temporarily changed the competitive dynamic. My message to employees at the plant, who will celebrate three years without an OSHA recordable incident later this month, was simple: be flexible and be creative.
Despite the recent change in competitive dynamics, Celanese needs a safe, efficient and cost competitive Singapore facility. I encouraged our team to rethink existing paradigms and challenge historic assumptions. In short – to truly be a part of the future of the Singapore plant.
Recently Mark Rohr, chairman and chief executive officer, told Celanese global leaders, “We may need to slow down to go faster.” I think this is true for Singapore today. We need to focus on the areas that can really make a difference – driving a sustainable competitive advantage where our customers need and want it.
The most common question I was asked during the visit was: is the Singapore facility part of the long term strategy of Celanese?” My answer, without hesitation, was “it needs to be.” Singapore is important to our success with customers in the region.
I’m confident our Singapore employees will do their part.