Singapore's success story in the oil and gas industry began with a slew of investments in oil refining starting from the early 1970s. This led to a flurry of investments in the area of petrochemicals that fuelled the development of a world-class oil and petrochemical hub in Jurong.

These developments mean new opportunities will continuously surface, and the level of technical skill set be broadened to a much wider field of petrochemicals and fine chemicals, according to Mr Simon Lam, CEO of Jurong Aromatics Corporation (JAC).

JAC, a private company that manufactures aromatics and oil products, is building a world-class US$2.4 billion (S$3 billion) aromatics complex on Jurong Island. Its stakeholders include industry players from Asia, Europe and North America.

On completion in early 2014, the complex will process each year 4.5 million tonnes of condensate feedstock to produce 1.44 million tonnes of aromatics — comprising 800 kilotonnes of paraxylene, 200 kilotonnes of orthoxylene and 400 kilotonnes of benzene.

In addition, it will produce 2.47 million tonnes of oil products. JAC will also be the first company in Singapore to use the Jurong Rock Cavern to store its feedstock underground.

Armed with extensive experience in the petrochemicals industry, Mr Lam joined JAC early this year after its former CEO retired. Formerly the chairman of Shell Singapore and manufacturing director of Shell Eastern Petroleum, he had led the development of two of Shell’s petrochemical complexes — one in Nanhai, China and the recently completed Shell Eastern Petrochemical Complex in Singapore.

“We aim to be a cost-effective producer of petrochemical and petroleum products through efficient design and operation of a safe, reliable, and environmentally sound facility that will meet our customers and stakeholders’ expectations and motivate our employees,” explains Mr Lam.

As a new start-up, JAC offers plenty of career opportunities within the organisation with roles across all functions — HR, IT, finance, operations, maintenance and technical.

In fact, JAC is ramping up its recruitment to employ more than 200 staff at the plant and head office. It is currently recruiting positions mainly for its plant operations such as engineering manager, process engineers, laboratory manager, maintenance management engineer, safety specialist, operations technician, board operators — to boost its current staff strength of about 70 employees.

“We are looking for people with the unique qualities of being talented and innovative, possess a pioneering spirit and who believe they can,” says Mr Lam.

“Operating a new world-scale petrochemical production facilities to a high standard of efficiency and reliability requires a deep understanding of its design and compliance with sound operating procedures,” notes Mr Lam when asked about the challenges ahead.

Hence, the candidate should possess “a strong sense of diligence and quality awareness. Beyond this, we will continuously seek improvements to our business and best practices, for which an innovative attitude is key to our success,” he says.

The appropriate training will be provided to all new employees who join the company. “In some cases, it will include overseas training in a similar live manufacturing plant. Beyond the start-up, training and development will continue to be an important part of the growth of our staff,” assures Mr Lam.

Still, workers can look forward to being part of the team to build up a strong company culture at JAC.

“Being a new start-up, and to be able to stay ahead of competition, we believe in the need to create a strong culture of our own, to be shared and aligned by all. We want to create an environment which is people-focused, and with values of trust, respect and team work — one that will encourage all employees to grow to their maximum potential,” says Mr Lam.