The Egyptian Process Safety Management (PSM) Committee held its annual PSM event under the title “Modernizing Process Safety Management: From Vision to Reality” on February 1, 2021. Sponsored by Methanex Egypt, the webinar provided a forum for showcasing the PSM Committee’s progress in 2020 and future roadmap.

The panel was led by the Minister of Petroleum and Mineral Resources Tarek El Molla, in addition to several prominent experts including; Abed Ezz El-Regal, CEO of the Egyptian General Petroleum Corporation (EGPC); Saad Helal, Chairman of the Egyptian Petrochemicals Holding Company (ECHEM); Mohamed Shindy, Managing Director at Methanex Egypt; Gamal Fathy Mohamed, HSE Chairman Assistant at EGPC; Salah El-Din Riad, ECHEM’s QHSE Chairman Assistant; Emad Kilany, Occupational Health and Safety and Fire Fighting Technical Studies General Manager at the Egyptian Natural Gas Holding Company (EGAS); and Mourad Hassan, Responsible Care (QHSE & PSM) Manager at Methanex Egypt. The panel was moderated by Mohamed Fouad, Managing Director and Partner at Egypt Oil & Gas (EOG).

Establishing a Robust PSM Culture

Seeking to embed PSM and asset integrity in all processes of the petrochemical industry in Egypt, Methanex conducted two conferences earlier in 2018 and 2019 in cooperation with ECHEM to provide the oil, gas, and petrochemical industry with access to information and world-class expertise on the important topic of PSM. The conferences were attended by around 800 of the industry’s top leaders and provided a platform to discuss and exchange knowledge around the latest advances in process safety.

Perhaps one of the most formidable achievements in 2020 was the signing of a memorandum of understanding (MoU) between the Ministry of Petroleum and Mineral Resources and Methanex Egypt on February 12, 2020, to promote PSM within the Egyptian oil and gas sector. Commemorating this success, Shindy highlighted that “this MoU cements the partnership that we started with ECHEM back in 2018 and brings along the rest of the Ministry of Petroleum holding companies. So, it is really translating this vision into reality.” The momentous agreement allowed for the formation of an Egyptian PSM Steering Committee to drive a robust agenda aimed at incorporating PSM culture within the oil, gas and petrochemical industry. The committee is currently active under the Ministry of Petroleum and Mineral Resources’ Modernization Project, following international best practices, guidelines, and standards.

One of the committee’s achievements over the past year was the creation of a PSM technical sub-committee drawing upon the talented young experts of the Ministry of Petroleum and Mineral Resources’ capacity building program. This will enable the implementation of PSM gap assessments in all sector companies and eventually the closing of these gaps, as part of the ministry’s vision for the modernization of the sector.

Presenting Greatest PSM Strides

This year’s PSM virtual webinar was commenced by the minister affirming the sector’s commitment to developing PSM practices in various petroleum activities in line with the Modernization Project’s Safety Week initiative. The minister stated that “PSM must be part of our decision-making process for new projects and existing operations through sound engineering judgment, dedicated budgets, and risk management.” Additionally, El Molla expressed the ministry’s keenness to implement effective initiatives to enhance safety in all projects to preserve the safety of personnel and conserve the environment as well as the assets. He highlighted the importance of practicing and implementing PSM in the sector, stating: “I encourage you all to work hard hand-in-hand with the PSM steering committee and the technical subcommittee to implement the PSM roadmap for the better of our sector.”

Ezz El-Regal addressed the panel and the attendees highlighting the need to implement PSM practices across the sector’s companies, noting that the establishment of the PSM Committee has been a great stride towards promoting safety practices. “I am very pleased with the creation and progress of the Egyptian process safety committee, and happy to be part of this event today representing EGPC to support the committee in its efforts to make our industries safer through raising awareness and establishing a network of like-minded professionals keen to have an honest dialogue about PSM and asset integrity as a first step to embedding these principles across all oil, gas, and petrochemical industries in Egypt,” said the EGPC CEO.

Helal stated in his opening remarks: “I am very proud of ECHEM’s partnership with Methanex to launch the PSM initiative across the Ministry of Petroleum and Mineral Resources back in 2018. It is this partnership that enables our event today, providing us with the forum to share the successes of our journey so far.” He noted that ECHEM’s partnership with Methanex underlined the importance of PSM not only to personnel but to the environment and assets as well. For the oil and gas industry, PSM should be a priority to all companies as it would help in managing risks and demonstrating compliance.

Next up, Fathy addressed the importance of adopting PSM practices indicating that in any industry, incidents have proven that it is essential to have a robust PSM in place. Fathy explained that PSM aims to identify and understand major accident hazards, in addition to evaluating their consequences and risks to prevent the incidents from happening again. In simple words, Fathy stated PSM’s mantra as “no harm to people, no harm to the environment, and no harm to assets.” Elaborating on that motto, he added that “this can be achieved by managing facilities through their complete life cycle with the goal of never unintentionally releasing hazardous material. We aim for all our companies to adhere to the principles of established design integrity, operations, and technical verification as embedded in good practice and standards.” He noted that in the end, it is important to remember that the goal is to prevent major incidents and so “PSM is not an option now, it is something that we need to apply in all our activities, it is not a luxury.”

Shindy commented on the challenges that the pandemic has brought along, noting that it actually did not halt the committee’s progress, which was mainly the result of the committee members’ determination and perseverance. He elaborated that, in 2020, the committee managed to fulfill its goals of drafting the committee’s charter, selecting the technical subcommittee members, in addition to developing a three-year road map, a PSM-based checklist to categorize companies’ PSM maturity levels, and launching their new website. “This [webinar] is a continuation of Methanex’s contribution to enhancing PSM processes within the industry. Today is about celebrating the PSM committee’s success since its inception and sharing a common vision in line with the Ministry of Petroleum and Mineral Resources modernization program to embed PSM as a key pillar in all our activities,” he stated.

From his side, Riad gave an update on the achievements of the PSM committee during the past year. He stated that the committee’s establishment was like an answer to a call especially as HSE is a topic that is of main concern to the minister. Riad explained how the committee pulled through the pandemic despite its challenges; explaining that they categorized the sector’s companies based on their PSM maturity level and when they will be able to fully adopt its practices starting from fiscal year (FY) 2020/21 until FY 2023/24. Riad emphasized that “PSM is a key pillar of how we operate our facilities. The webinar is an opportunity to further embed PSM and asset integrity in all process and manufacturing industries in Egypt, in accordance with the Egyptian Ministry of Petroleum and Mineral Resources’ vision for modernizing the sector.”

PSM Committee Goals

As planning ahead is essential in these cases, the committee put in place a three-year roadmap to achieve its promised goals. Several steps were taken in that direction including; identifying the status of PSM maturity on a national level, developing PSM program procedures based on the US Center for Chemical Process Safety (CCPS), as well as a hazard management program, and a PSM Key Performance Indicators (KPIs) for companies’ performance management.

Riad delved into parts of the committee’s agenda for 2021 which targets establishing risk assessment guidelines, hazard identification procedures, and safety case guidelines. The PSM Steering Committee has also recommended that a PSM organizational structure should be applied to all Ministry of Petroleum’s affiliated companies including roles and responsibilities for the job profiles and a competency framework. Developing a communication plan was also a key focus for the committee to share the key PSM knowledge within the sector through annual workshops, conferences, publications, and websites.

A Case Study: Showcasing PSM Importance

The last two speakers of the panel, Kilany and Hassan, gave a detailed presentation on a study of the safety case structure. Kilany began by signifying the importance of promoting PSM, saying: “The webinar is a great opportunity to share and set the fundamental technical PSM requirements from projects and operations. It highlights the importance of the PSM program and sets the way forward for organizations within the sector to understand the compliance requirements against defined standards and procedures.” He then moved on to the study explaining that one of the benefits of the study is that it includes workforce participation which in turn increases the awareness level and promotes a safety-behavior attitude. Additionally, Kilany remarked that the safety structure encompasses all the aspects of PSM practices to ensure a positive outcome.

For further elaboration, Hassan offered a few examples of Major Accident Hazards (MAHs). Such MAHs included oil in vessels or pipelines which could result in severe consequences including jet fire, flash fire, pool fire, and vapor cloud explosion (VCE). “Our goal here and companies’ duty is to make sure this does not happen,” Hassan stated. Through a probability risk management matrix, he illustrated a risk-hierarchy beginning from low-risk activities and rising to the top to high-risk activities. Hassan elaborated that “if we get to a higher risk zone we need to stop, need to reevaluate and go back to our option thinking process and aim to identify processes and concepts that are following the hierarchy of control where we eliminate the risks.” He concluded by expressing his pride in being part of the PSM conference throughout the years stating that “it is a fantastic opportunity to reach a huge audience to share the outstanding achievements the PSM committee has been working on such as the future roadmap that sets an Egypt PSM structure to success. It is also wonderful to network with colleagues across the sector and share PSM knowledge about the development and use of a Safety Case.”

Closing Remarks

Ezz El-Regal concluded the webinar by saying that it represents the collective hope and collaboration between a myriad of companies in which safety lies at their core. It also fosters a notion of responsibility across the board; whether as individuals or a corporation, personnel or management. As fostering a safety-oriented culture was one of the driving forces behind forming the committee, Shindy hopes that in time, companies will be able to show progress and build PSM awareness across the industry.