Issue 4 | OCTOBER 2012
Interviews Mr Tan Ek Kia, Chairman, City Gas
On Cue

Profile of Mr Tan Ek Kia

Mr Tan Ek Kia is the Chairman of City Gas Pte Ltd. He is also the interim CEO of SMRT Corporation Ltd and the Chairman of Star Energy Group Holdings Pte Ltd.

He sits on the Boards of CitySpring Infrastructure Management Pte Ltd, Keppel Corporation Ltd, PT Chandra Asli Petrochemical Tbk, and Transocean Ltd. Prior to this, he was VP for Shell Chemicals for Ventures and Developments in Asia Pacific and Middle East, Chairman for Shell Companies in North East Asia, and Managing Director for Shell Exploration and Development companies in Malaysia.

He is a Chartered Engineer with the Engineering Council UK and a Fellow of the Institution of Engineers, Malaysia.

1. Singapore currently imports natural gas from Malaysia and Indonesia and its first LNG terminal will be operational next year. Do you see Singapore evolving to become a regional gas trading hub?

Singapore is already a global trading hub for oil and chemicals, with established physical and trading infrastructure facilities. All the major oil and gas players have offices here. Singapore has the potential to be a regional gas trading hub, leveraging on its excellent infrastructure and its strategic position between key LNG importers like China, India, Japan and South Korea, and LNG supply sources such as Qatar, Malaysia, Indonesia and Australia. The LNG terminal will allow for storage of gas and therefore, the first step towards becoming a hub for the trading of physical gas molecules and a platform for paper gas trade.

2. How will City Gas continue to ensure a safe and reliable supply of gas? With the industrial sectors’ increasing use of natural gas, how will City Gas continue to support the development of the gas industry?

City Gas has signed long term piped natural gas supply agreements and a reserve storage of naphtha at Senoko Gasworks. The gasmaking plants are designed to operate on both natural gas and naphtha as feedstock for security and reliability of towngas production. City Gas will continue to evaluate its gas purchase options e.g. buying LNG.

City Gas is first an industrial gas customer. We use natural gas for the production of towngas. At Senoko Gasworks we are able to test-bed new technologies for the Singapore market. We have installed gas heat pump (GHP) to provide air-conditioning for our offices and recover the waste heat to provide hot water for shower. We have also installed a solar cum gas central hot water system.

Being a niche natural gas player in the industrial segment, our strategy is first to get to know the customers and offer ‘tailored’ solutions. We will also explore new technology to help our customers to save, be more productive and efficient and be greener.

City Gas works closely with the industry, e.g. engine and appliances companies, consultants, PowerGas, to promote and encourage the use of gas and to ensure that the whole gas supply chain works safely and reliably. City Gas also participates actively in all EMA initiatives and activities. As the incumbent gas player, City Gas works with EMA to train most of the gas licensed workers which the industry needs.

3. With City Gas providing services to about 50 percent of households in Singapore, what are some value-added services which City Gas may have in the pipeline?

City Gas encourages the use of more efficient gas appliances which help a household to save. For example, changing from an electric storage heater to a gas water heater a household can save up to 60 percent in energy bill for water heating. City Gas has aggressively promoted the use of gas water heaters and today it is widely used in new condominiums and HDB flats.

Currently, City Gas is exploring with EMA to convert the towngas network to natural gas. When completed, this long-term project could lead to higher efficiencies, lower costs and greater environmental benefits.

4. What role can City Gas play in Singapore’s energy efficiency efforts?

City Gas will continue to encourage the use of gas which is green for both towngas and natural gas applications, and many gas appliances are also more energy efficient. City Gas will explore and work with partners to bring in new and more energy efficient gas technology and equipment especially for industrial applications.

5. Could you share what are some of your future plans for City Gas?

City Gas just celebrated its 150th Anniversary last year. We aim to continue to warm the hearts of the Singapore consumers for many more years. We are exploring various new ventures, e.g. forming a JV with Osaka Gas to better serve the industrial gas customers.

Converting the towngas network to natural gas will likely lead to more gas usage with the switching from alternative fuels such as fuel oil, diesel and LPG for many commercial and industrial applications. This has happened with countries that have undergone conversion.

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