stablished on 13 March 1997, ASPRI turned 25 this year. From its modest beginning the fledgling association with some 50 members is now nearly 600-member strong with a well-tuned secretariat undertaking initiatives to advance the best interests of the Process industry, raising its stature within the chemical industry.
ASPRI’s achievements are due in no small measure to the strong stewardship of past presidents, the immense support from members and the good counsel of government agencies, plant owners and partners. Through working together much has been achieved. Some of the key milestones include the PCM Scheme, Local Industry Upgrading Programme (LIUP), On-the-Job Training (OJT) for 13 skillsets, ProcessCEM Asia, ASPRI-Westlite Dormitory-Papan and training arm, ASPRI-IPI.
The Association has even more reasons to celebrate this year as its Silver Jubilee coincides with the lifting of much of the restrictions imposed to contain the spread of Covid-19, enabling normal operations to resume. Petrochemical and clean energy projects that were stalled because of the pandemic are also being revitalised.
Facing up to challenges of Covid-19
For two long years, the Association and its members like the rest of the world had to labour under trying conditions with all the uncertainties thrown up by Covid-19. It was a fast-evolving situation for which no one was adequately prepared.
However, the association rose to the challenge. ASPRI engaged with government agencies and stakeholders to put all systems and procedures in place to ensure that members were kept updated on rapidly changing developments, essential plant maintenance continued to be carried out, and the 7,900 workers lockdown in the ASPRI-Westlite Dormitory-Papan stayed informed, engaged and safe.
As the Covid-19 situation improved, ASPRI, together with the marine and construction industry, worked with the government to steadily ease requirements to facilitate the entry of much-needed workers for ongoing projects and alleviate the labour shortage.
With the support of the Ministry of Manpower, ASPRI provided mediation between work permit holders and employers under the Change of Employer – Without Consent programme. From 1 March 2021, it has assisted close to 100 member companies to retain about 600 experienced work permit holders and helped stabilise the labour crunch.
By being able to face up squarely to the most difficult phase in the Singapore process industry’s history, ASPRI has proven its mettle and earned the trust of members, the government, plant owners, and non-governmental organisations. ASPRI members have never been more cohesive, which bodes well going forward.
Embarking on a sustainable industry
As we leave the worst of the pandemic behind, new challenges beckon. The world is transitioning to a greener economy to mitigate the worst effects of climate change. The government has unveiled a Green Plan to advance Singapore’s national agenda on sustainable development and the energy and chemicals industry is an integral part of this development. Under this plan, Jurong Island is to be transformed into a sustainable energy and chemicals park.
Some plant owners have made their shift to clean energy. Amongst them are Shell, which is building Asia’s largest pyrolysis oil upgrader unit for recycling plastic waste at Bukom, and ExxonMobil, which has plans to expand its production of higher-value base stocks for lubricants and distillates from fuel oil and other bottom-of-the-barrel crude products.
But as many of the plant owners are researching and piloting solutions, it presents an opportunity for ASPRI members to work with clients to realise this transition. To support members in their effort, ASPRI have come up with a 4C framework targeted at different levels - the national, industry, enterprise and individual levels.
The first ‘C’ refers to Carbon Goals. As ASPRI is aligned with government’s efforts to decarbonise, it is taking steps to enable members to get up to speed. Besides conducting seminars on new ideas, concepts or technologies that members can adopt as they make this transition, ASPRI will be organising trade missions to the Netherlands and the Middle East to learn how companies are transforming to this new future and explore possible partnerships.
The second ‘C’, Collaborations for Change, is targeted at the industry level. Together with potential partners ASPRI will work to accelerate members growth and create new unique business propositions. Some of these collaborations may include technology scouting, support for sustainability reporting and green project financing.
The third ‘C’, Capability Development, is pitched at the enterprise level. Apart from supporting members manpower capability development in areas such as carbon measurement and sustainability management, ASPRI will also support members on their digitalisation journey.
And finally, the last ‘C’, Champions for Sustainability, is focused on galvanising the collective efforts of interested members, dedicated to a more sustainable future. To enable this, ASPRI is launching a sustainability chapter which will serve as a platform where members can meet and exchange ideas, and give feedback on the direction the association should take.
Digital transformation for the industry
As digitisation is a precursor to transforming and thriving in a more sustainable future, the Digital Readiness Index (DRI) was launched by ASPRI at its Silver Jubilee gala dinner on 20 July 2022. Created in response to members’ feedback, DRI is a holistic process where ASPRI will walk the digitalisation journey with members.
Members will complete a set of curated questions which were developed after peer and literature review and had been pilot tested with some 40 members. An e-report will then be generated for each company, with industry benchmarking. A member of ASPRI’s programme office will then walk the company through the e-report and support the company in its digitisation effort.
As this is the first message I am writing as President, I would like to take this opportunity to thank the immediate past President Charles Quek for his commitment and steadfast leadership. For 10 years he served tirelessly to advance the interests of ASPRI and its members, leaving behind a proud legacy which is truly inspirational. To my fellow ASPRI and council members, I place on record my gratitude for entrusting me with the role of President.
14th Executive Council President, Association of Process Industry