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ExxonMobil announced on Tuesday (April 2) a multibillion-dollar expansion of its Singapore-based industrial complex, which will help increase production of cleaner fuels with lower sulfur content.

The expansion project, which is due to come on stream in 2023, will convert fuel oil and other residual gross products into higher-value base and distillate stocks, ExxonMobil said in a statement.

He added that this will increase his ability to produce cleaner fuels with low sulfur content at 48,000 barrels per day, including high quality marine fuels.

The expansion comes as the shipping and refining industries prepare to comply with the new International Maritime Organization (IMO) rules on marine fuels from 2020, which limits the sulfur content of 3.5% to reduce pollution of ships.

Companies have made huge investments to meet the new standards since they were announced in 2016.

The Singapore refinery, located on Jurong Island and a location on the mainland in Jurong, is the largest on ExxonMobil, with a capacity of about 592,000 barrels per day.

Singapore also houses the largest integrated petrochemical complex of the oil giant, and the facility includes the world's only steam cracker capable of breaking crude oil.

"The decision to expand our operations in Singapore helps establish ExxonMobil as a regional leader in the production of innovative products that help customers improve fuel economy and reduce emissions," said Gan Seow Kee, president and chief executive officer, ExxonMobil Asia Pacific.

"This is the latest in a series of major investments in Singapore and is based on our commitment to improving our growth and competitiveness in the Asia Pacific region."

Exxon did not specify the amount it plans to invest in the expansion project.

Welcoming the decision, Chan Chan's Trade and Industry Minister Chan Chun Sing said the investment signals the continued confidence of ExxonMobil in Singapore and the country's petrochemical industry. This will also create "exciting new opportunities" for local businesses and workers, he added in a Facebook post.

"ExxonMobil has been a close and reliable partner and they have played a significant role in the development of Singapore's vibrant petrochemical industry," said the minister.

"Singapore's strong and reliable brand, skilled workforce and pro-business environment have enabled us to distinguish ourselves from the competition and remain attractive to key foreign investors," he added.

"We will continue to work closely with all stakeholders to develop a diverse and vibrant economy for the benefit of Singaporeans."

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