Pulau Hantu - A celebration of marine life

Secret lives and secret worlds hidden in Singapore's most popular coral reef.

Tuesday, June 14, 2005

Free Talk!

"Southern Haunt" by Zeehan Jaafar
For the Hantu Blog

22nd June 2005 (Wed)
Geylang East Community Library

Forty-minutes from Singapore's mainland is an island that has been enjoyed and exploited for decades. In the past years, Pulau Hantu has remained mostly unheard of and even shunned by the same community which once celebrated her. Volunteer nature guide and marine biologist, Zeehan Jaafar, shares the wonders of this iconic island.

This talk is organised by the Nature Society of Singapore.

Sunday, June 12, 2005

Crack this.

Shell the Dutch petrochemical company has plans to install a cracker on land to be reclaimed between Pulau Ular and Busing, just meters away from Pulau Hantu.

How much do you know about what's going on anyway? What is a cracker? What is ethylene? Is the only issue land reclamation? And apart from manufacturing fuel for automobiles, what is Shell about?

A process in which molecules are cracked, e.g., the oil-refining process in which heavy oils are broken down into hydrocarbons of lower molecular weight by heat or with a catalyst.

A unit in an oil refinery in which heavy fractions from crude oil are broken down (cracked), using a catalyst, into lighter distillates.

Ethylene gas (C2H4) is an odorless, colorless gas that exists in nature and is also created by man-made sources. Not easily detectable, it exists where produce is stored. In nature, the largest producers are plant and plant products (ie. fruits, vegetables and floral products) which produce ethylene within their tissues and release it into the surrounding atmosphere. It is also a by-product of man-made processes, such as combustion.

Ethylene is a basic chemical, widely-used in the production of everyday articles, such as plastic bags, washing-up liquids, paints, anti-freeze and car components. More about Ethylene

Cracker emissions
The high-temperature cracking of ethane is energy intensive, and results in a relatively high level of greenhouse gas emissions per unit of production.

The main combustion products emitted are Oxides of Nitrogen (NOx), Oxides of Sulphur (SOx), and Carbon Dioxide(CO2).

The processes also generate millions of tonnes of waste water that is discharged into the immediate environment, influencing water temperature and pH levels.

Shell's Environmental Minimum Standards
1. External certification of the environmental component of HSE management systems against a recognised, independent system standard.

All Shell Business Units are encouraged to have their environmental management systems certified against recognised, independent system standards, such as ISO 14001 or the European Union’s Eco-Management and Audit Scheme (EMAS).

All major installations having significant environmental risks should have been certified. This includes as a minimum:

o All crude oil and natural gas export terminals, gas plans, offshore platforms, major flow stations, floating production and storage vessels, all Shell operated refineries and chemicals manufacturing facilities;
o All ships accredited under the International Management Code for the Safe Operation of Ships and for Pollution Prevention (“ISM Code”).

2. External verification ('auditing') of reported data.
Any Shell Company, the environmental impact of whose operations is considered material at Group level by the external verifiers of the Group’s HSE report, should have its reported Group HSE performance data verified by a competent, independent body.

5. SOx and NOx emissions and Oil in Effluent Water (Oil Products and Chemicals)
Shell Companies should co-operate with local governments and regulatory bodies in all countries where they operate and contribute wherever possible in the development of appropriate regulatory frameworks for refinery and chemicals manufacturing facilities emissions, which are designed to take full account of local circumstances, including the potential impact on the surrounding environment.

The annual average concentrations of SOx and NOx in gaseous emissions and of Oil in Effluent Water at Shell refineries and chemicals manufacturing facilities outside the OECD should fall within the ranges of those permitted at Shell refineries and chemicals manufacturing facilities within the OECD. Adherence to this principle should be maintained over time, although a reasonable lead-time may, in some circumstances, be required for the necessary investment.

6. Discharges to Water (Chemicals)
All process waters from chemicals processing facilities should be subjected to waste water treatment before discharge to receiving waters.

7. Produced Water (E&P)
Produced water should only be discharged to a receiving environment with which it is compatible. In the open sea, oil in water discharges should not exceed an average level of 40 mg/l, which is the current North Sea standard.

Environmental Impact Assessment (EIA)
EIA is a procedure that must be followed for certain types of development before they are granted development consent. The requirement for EIA comes from a Singaporean directive. The procedure requires the developer to compile an Environmental Statement (ES) describing the likely significant effects of the development on the environment and proposed mitigation measures. The ES must be circulated to statutory consultation bodies and made available to the public for comment. Its contents, together with any comments, must be taken into account by the competent authority (e.g. local planning authority) before it may grant consent. More about EIA

Shell - Good Press
After Murco Petroleum Ltd, Shell is the most ethical choice* where petrol and diesel are concerned. Esso/ExxonMobil is the most unethical of brands.

Shell rejects shale oil
Shell's environmental performace

Shell - Bad Press
Royal Dutch/Shell has operations in tax heavens, as does Murco. In June 2001, it emerged that the £30m Shell has invested in its Sustainable Energy Programme to last for three years represented just 20 hours' profits.

Shell's pollution record
Shell International's Legacy of Pollution and Damage
Shell's Chronic Pollution and Toxic Drilling Fluids

*Ethical Consumer is the UK's leading alternative consumer magazine looking at the companies behind the brands. Products are rated according to workers' issues, pollution, animal rights and more.

If you have further questions about Shell, their plans, or how you can assist in the campaign for an alternative, Email us.

"Yes, corporations are part of the problem, but they are an integral part of the solution as well." - Sir Mark Moody-Stuart, former Chairman of the Royal Dutch/Shell Group

Wednesday, June 08, 2005

Reflections of 29 May 2005

In March 2004, just over a year ago, I made my first dive at Pulau Hantu, and it was the most dispiriting dive I'd ever had for a few reasons - 1)There wasn't a guide to show or tell me anything, 2)Everything was covered in silt, including the animals, 3)I had no idea where I was going, the zero vis at 12noon was unexpected.

I re-lived this event on 29 May 2005. After nearly eight months of frolicking in clear waters, who'd have thought it'd take so little, and barely an instant to take all that splendour away.

My first Hantu dive

The fact is that those who impair our oceans aren't those who seek pleasure from it, and even if they did, it'd be merely a superficiality or in blissful ignorance. Which is why the diver should know better.

Divers are ambassadors to our world's oceans. Dive after dive, we look forward to standard favourable conditions: great vis, suitable currents, outstanding creatures. But why is it that one dive holiday after another, it takes an immense realisation to want to consider protecting it?

The dive industry holds a particular obligation, since it draws income directly from the ocean. Without beautiful seas and wonderful animals, who'd go into the sea? Yet the irony is that some dive operations directly impact our oceans with mal-equipped resorts and irresponsible instructors/dive masters that act as paltry role-models.

However, the most important player in the industry is you, the consumer. Be wise. Know the role you play and the power you have in making decisions and influencing market trends. Be active. Stay ahead of the industry and the issues by keeping tuned to dive and environmental news. Be responsible. Remain true to yourself and the environment. You know right from wrong. Don't give in to compromise, especially at the expense of the environment.

Don't let up. Even when it seems that all beauty has been restored and there is enough existance, remember that everything beautiful can disappear as swift as a shadow. Make your opinions heard. Let policy makers hear you. It can begin with a simple conversation, an email, an sms.

Only when the last tree has died
and the last river been poisoned
and the last fish been caught
will we realise we cannot eat money.

Thursday, June 02, 2005

Shell to reclaim land around Pulau Ular

As part of its design and engineering study... Shell is looking at land reclamation around Pulau Ular - one of three small islands that make up Bukom - because there isn't enough space on the main Bukom island to build the project.

Business Times
May 25, 2005

Shell sees Jurong Island plants taking all output of new cracker
by Ronnie Lim

[SINGAPORE] Shell Chemicals is confident that ethylene output from a multi-billion dollar petrochemical cracker it is looking at building here would be fully taken up by downstream or secondary plants on Jurong Island - ensuring the project is competitive.

For a start, a significant share of the cracker's proposed one million tonnes per annum (tpa) of ethylene would be consumed by a mono-ethylene glycol plant that Shell plans to build on Jurong Island as part of the overall project.

'We are also developing other outlets for olefins and benzene and we expect all the output from the cracker would be consumed on Jurong Island,' said Harshad Topiwala, Shell's general manager for Base Chemicals in the Asia/Pacific and Middle East.

A Shell spokesman said the company is talking with downstream parties but declined to name them.

Local uptake of 100 per cent of output will be a key driver for the cracker's go-ahead. Pipelines from Shell's Pulau Bukom refinery - where the unit would be built - to the downstream plants on Jurong Island are already in place, Mr Topiwala said in Shell Chemicals Magazine.

Another plus would be the cracker's integration with the Bukom refinery, which means it could make use of heavier, lower-quality feedstock such as low-sulphur waxy residue available from the latter.

'In return, lighter molecules produced by the cracker and not suitable for use in chemical operations would be fed back into the refinery,' said project
development manager Paul Hampson.

As part of its design and engineering study for the cracker, Shell is looking at land reclamation around Pulau Ular - one of three small islands that make up Bukom - because there isn't enough space on the main Bukom island to build the project.

On competition from rival Middle East crackers with access to cheap gas feedstock, Mr Topiwala said that although these can produce ethylene more cheaply, they can't produce much in the way of co-products. But liquid feedstock crackers - like the one Shell is looking at building here - can produce a range of co-products, such as propylene, butenes and benzene, apart from just ethylene.

'These are all part of our core portfolio and are an important factor in the overall economic viability,' Mr Topiwala said.

Also, the Singapore cracker would be closer to key growth markets - especially China - than rival Middle Eastern plants.

While all indicators point to a go-ahead, a final decision on the cracker is expected around end-2005 or possibly as late as mid-2006, which means it would not be operating until 2009. It would be Shell's third cracker here, following its half-stake in two Petrochemical Corporation of Singapore crackers with a total capacity of 1.4 million tpa.

Other cracker projects planned in the region include one by ExxonMobil, which is studying a second unit here after its 800,000 tpa unit on Jurong Island, and Shell's Nanhai cracker, which is scheduled to start up three to four years ahead of its Bukom project.