Going Underground

December 4, 2012


Minister Iswaran and I went underground recently. We explored the Jurong Rock Caverns (JRC) beneath the Banyan Basin on Jurong Island. It was quite an experience.

Located at a depth of more than 130m, Phase One JRC contains 5 caverns which will provide storage and terminalling facilities for liquid hydrocarbons such as crude oil and condensate. They form an important infrastructure for our petrochemical industry.

Normally such facilities are built above ground as they will be cheaper. But by building them underground, we free up valuable land for other purposes. The 5 caverns are made up of storage galleries, each with average dimensions of 20m (W) X 27m (H) X 340m (L). The height is equivalent to a 9-storey building. The saving is equivalent to a saving of 60 ha of land which is very significant for Singapore.

Two caverns are now almost completed and will be used to store liquid hydrocarbons once ready. Subsequent visits to the first two caverns will no longer be possible.

Worldwide, there are more than 200 rock caverns. We now have some in our midst.

Not quite to the centre of the Earth, but the visit down the shaft to the (currently) deepest part of Singapore, nevertheless, left a deep impression. The JRC opens up new opportunities for land-scarce Singapore. Beyond storage, what more can be moved underground?

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