5 things you never knew about Jurong Island.

Posted: 14 Oct 2016, 1000 hours (GMT +8)

Cheryl Heng

Singapore has always been the little red dot. But did you know that we are actually made up of many dots? About 50 of them to be exact.

We had more but most of the smaller islands have been reclaimed to form bigger ones. The most famous and largest is Jurong Island. Here are five things you may not know about this island.

1. 7 become 1.

Pulau Seraya, Pulau Ayer Merbau, Pulau Sakra, Pulau Pesek Kecil, Pulau Pesek, Pulau Ayer Chawan and Pulau Merlimau. You may not recognise any of them because they no longer exist today.

These were names of offshore islands that were merged to form what is now known as Jurong Island, a petrochemical, petroleum and natural gas hub.


The size of Jurong Island is three times as much as the original land area of the small islands combined. (Source/Wildshores of Singapore)

Before the 1960s, there were villagers still living in wooden stilt houses on some of these islands.


2. The island is meant to be on its own.

It was a deliberate decision not to merge Jurong Island with the mainland, although I am sure it could have been done easily. Safety was the main reason.

Risks for industrial accidents are really high, no thanks to all the plants and flammable substances on the island. Remember the fire that broke out on Jurong Island in April this year? The fire was so massive, half an oil tank "melted".

Imagine this massive fire happening on mainland! (Source/SCDF's FB)

Linked to the mainland by a 2.3-km causeway, the island has its own array of facilities like dormitories for the foreign workers and even an amenities centre called Oasis@Sakra.

Oasis@Sakra might not look impressive on the outside but it houses a medical center and you can even find an alfresco dining restaurant in it! (Source/Little Joy of Beary)

And deep below, there is a 640-km undersea pipeline that carries natural gas directly from Indonesia.

3. We had our very own Captain Hook.

Or Jack Sparrow if you prefer.

Yup, pirates were real, way back in the 1800s. The small islands in the area created a maze of hideouts, which pirates used to disappear into after raids on passing vessels. It didn't help that straits of Selat Sembilan (now Selat Jurong) was an important part of an ancient maritime trade route, which meant that many vessels had to pass by the area.


(Source/National Archives of Singapore)

Pirates of Singapore anyone?


4. There was a rescue mission before reclamation started.

To rescue the coral reefs around the islands that is.


The reef at the southern coast of Pulau Ayer Chawan 20 years ago. (Source/Nature Society Singapore)

Volunteers from Nature Society (Singapore) came together after they found out that Pulau Ayer Chawan was due to for reclamation. These volunteers spent about 104 weekends moving corals and other reef organisms to Sentosa, 1.5 hours away.


The volunteers did this almost every Sunday, for two whole years. (Source/Nature Society Singapore)

Less than 11 per cent of the corals survived the journey. Still, the project managed to raise public awareness of the rich coral reef life present in our waters.


5. Something else lies under the sea.

Below Banyan Basin at Jurong island lies Jurong Rock Caverns, the first underground liquid hydrocarbon storage facility in Southeast Asia.


There are five caverns, housing nine galleries. They are used to store liquid hydrocarbon like crude oil. (Source/UnTourist Singapore)

Each gallery has a storage space of 165,000 m³ . That is equivalent to the volume of 1,300 single-deck buses! Now, multiply that amount by nine. We are saving about 70 football fields of land above ground!


How did the vehicles get in the tunnels? (Source/PM Lee's FB)

There is a gigantic lift to bring vehicles down to the caverns! Because the caverns are located 150 meters below ground level (which is more than the height of a 30-storey HDB block), they had to make sure there was a way for trucks to get into the tunnels to transport rocks out during construction of the caverns.

Rocks excavated from the caverns were enough to cover the entire Sentosa, six times. (Source/PM Lee's FB)

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From pirates to petrol, Jurong Island sure has come a long way since the 1800s.