The Jurong Rock Caverns. Image courtesy of Jurong Consultants.

The Jurong Rock Caverns, the first commercial petrochemical underground rock cavern storage facility in Southeast Asia, officially opened Tuesday.

The facility was built by Singapore’s state owned JTC Corporation and cost about about $759 million.

Korea-based Hyundai Engineering and Construction designed and is constructing the facility.

Building the facility underground increased construction costs by about 30 percent but freed up 148 acres of land.

“As a small city state, we are constantly pushing boundaries in our quest to overcome our scarce land resource,” JTC Chairman Dr. Loo Choon Yong said.

Two of the caverns are currently open and the facility’s other three caverns are expected to be completed by the end of 2016.

The two open caverns are already being used by Singapore-based petrochemical company Jurong Aromatics Corporation to store feedstock.

A consortium called Banyan Caverns Storage Services was awarded operatorship of the facility for 15 years in Janurary. The operatorship contract is worth about $160 million.

The consortium is comprised of Singapore-based Vopak Terminals Singapore (45 percent), France-based Geostock (35 percent) and Singapore-based Jurong Consultants (20 percent).

The facility is 492 feet underground and is located beneath Jurong Island, Singapore’s energy and chemicals hub.

The cavern’s fives access tunnels are each about 5.5 miles long. The facility has a total storage capacity of about 52 million cubic feet, equivalent to 600 Olympic sized swimming pools.

The caverns are the deepest Singapore public works to date, Asia Channel News said.

The project took 14 years to plan and build.

Signapore’s Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong said the country’s government is considering more subterranean projects including an underground science city, an underground warehousing and logistics facility and underground caverns near CleanTech Park an eco-buisness park near Jurong.

The caverns are part of a broader plan to expand Singapore’s petrochemical sector.


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