Country Listing

Singapore Table of Contents



Petroleum and petrochemicals were another base of Singapore's industrial and economic life. In the late 1980s, Singapore was the world's third largest oil-trading center and also the third largest center for petroleum refining. It was the second largest builder of drilling rigs, and its facilities for repairing and maintaining rigs and tankers were the most competitive in East Asia.

When oil prices began eroding in 1981 and collapsing toward the end of 1985, Singapore felt both negative and positive consequences. The collapse of oil prices dealt a severe blow to oil exploration. The impact was felt widely and immediately in everything from reduced orders for rig construction to lowered occupancy of luxury apartments as foreign petroleum workers returned home. With both of its immediate neighbors, Indonesia and Malaysia, heavily dependent on oil and gas exports for revenue, Singapore had a resulting loss of trade in both goods and services.

Singapore benefited, however, from the availability of cheaper energy, which in 1986 amounted to a savings of about S$2.5 billion (US$1.12 billion). Furthermore, Singaporean refineries invested in the equipment and technology necessary to enable them to refine a wide variety of crude oils and obtain a greater proportion of highvalued products from the refining process. Petroleum refining alone made up 28 percent of Singapore's manufacturing output in 1985, although by 1988 it had dropped by half as a result of a decline in petroleum production and growth in other industries. Singapore also benefited indirectly when large oil importers such as Japan and the United States obtained higher real incomes from lower oil prices, enabling them to increase their imports from Singapore and other countries.

Data as of December 1989