A long journey of achievements and resilience shaped the growth of Methanex Egypt today enabling the company to establish itself as a strong player and a responsible neighbor, in just a few years. Through its power of agility, strong culture and commitment to the Responsible Care ethics, Methanex Egypt ensured safe operations and reliable production throughout the past ten years while fostering productive and impactful relationships with its key stakeholders with significant results within the sector and community in Damietta.
In December 2004, the decision was taken to build a $1.3 billion state-of-the-art plant in Damietta on the Mediterranean shores across from Methanex Corporation’s biggest customer base in Europe. The first years were key in building a strong team and solid operational and safety systems that would help achieve the company’s strategy of providing a secure supply of methanol to local and global markets through safe and reliable production.
Methanex Egypt started its early site construction stages in 2007 with a team of Egyptian and international experts, putting the first building blocks to its currently functioning plant. Methanex then started recruiting local talents, as the first seed of its current strong team, developing them through on-job training and knowledge exchange programs within the organization as part of the company’s dedication to learning and development. With the team’s perseverance, putting safety as their number one priority all the time, Methanex Egypt was able to produce first methanol on March 11, 2011. Those were challenging times for the country and economy, however Methanex maintained its operations and its strong culture based on its core values of trust, respect, integrity, and professionalism.
In its early years, and as part of its Responsible Care, Methanex started its social responsibility program in the surrounding community in Damietta with a focus on supporting health and education through collaboration with local NGOs to make sure the support meets actual local concerns and needs. In education, Methanex started its flagship scholarship program in collaboration with Misr El Kheir foundation, that fully supports the university education of 10 high school graduates per year reaching 52 students to date. In addition, Methanex Egypt funded the renovation of kindergartens in Damietta and provided teachers with capacity-building programs and teacher training, to enhance their skills. Methanex also organized an annual recognition event for exceptional students in the different educational stages. Regarding health, Methanex supplied three of the main hospitals in Damietta with the essential equipment and organized a number of medical caravans providing much needed medical services to nearby villages across the years each serving thousands of patients over the years.
As a result of the team’s resilience and hard work across the first six years, in 2017, Methanex was able to supply methanol to Zohr Field’s development operations, by adapting the company’s methanol supply systems to allow the loading of small barges that could take their methanol to the mega field directly. This was a pivotal moment in Methanex’s journey to support the industry. This was quickly followed by the signing of a memorandum of understanding (MoU) with Suez for Methanol Derivatives (SMD) in early 2018 to supply the project with the needed methanol in alignment with the Ministry of Petroleum’s strategy that aims at maximizing the value of the country’s resources. In addition, during the same year – 2018 – Methanex celebrated the delivery of 500,000 tons of methanol to the local market with the Egyptian Petrochemicals Holding company (ECHEM) as another testament to Methanex’s alignment with the national petrochemical sector’s plan and the Ministry of Petroleum and Mineral Resources’ strategy for substituting exports with domestic products and supporting local industries dependent on methanol as a key feedstock for the manufacture of a significant number of value adding products.
With its growing safety culture and global knowledge and expertise, in 2018, Methanex Egypt saw an opportunity through its partnership with ECHEM to enhance process safety management (PSM) within the Petrochemical sector as a reflection of the company’s own Responsible Care culture and commitment to safety. Through this partnership, the partners hosted two conferences in 2018 and 2019 that brought together a total of 800 representatives from across the Egyptian Petrochemical, and Oil & Gas sector where world renowned speakers ran PSM focused workshops. This allowed for establishing a common understanding of PSM within the industry and empowering a broader group of the industry’s leaders to drive continuous improvement in the sector’s process safety.
To help build a new qualified and empowered generation of young calibers to support the petrochemical sector in the future, Methanex launched a new graduate training program in 2019. As a result of the program’s success, the company launched another phase of its program in 2020.
In 2018, Methanex Egypt started shifting the focus of its CSR strategy to align with Egypt’s Vision 2030 and the United Nation’s Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) through pilot testing the International Labor Organization’s Decent Jobs for Egypt’s Young People in Damietta, and going on to sign a partnership with the ILO in 2019 extending the full-scale of their successful project to Damietta through a $1,000,000 donation. The project aims to create decent employment opportunities for youth in Damietta, through promoting entrepreneurship and facilitating job matching processes to enable the creation of over 500 jobs in Damietta over the duration of the project. In recognition of this work, in 2019, Methanex Egypt received the International Council for Small Business (ICSB) Humane Entrepreneurship Award, for its contribution to the enrichment of micro, small and medium-sized enterprise (MSME) culture in Damietta. The award was presented at the UN headquarters in New York, as part of the UN’s celebrations of MSME Day.
Furthermore, in November 2019, the Minister of Petroleum and Mineral Resources, Tarek El Molla, met the Board of Directors of Methanex Corporation in their first visit to Egypt. This visit was a testament to the positive impact of the country’s economic and energy reform programs and Methanex’s trust and optimism in the future of its investment in Egypt after a long period of challenges.
Early into 2020, building on the momentum created in the two PSM conferences and in alignment with the Ministry of Petroleum’s modernization strategy, Methanex signed a MoU with the Ministry of Petroleum and Mineral Resources to promote and embed PSM culture within the Egyptian oil, gas, and petrochemical industry. This enabled the formation of the Egyptian PSM Steering Committee and a three-year road map to guide the PSM culture within the sector. In February 2021, Methanex sponsored a webinar titled “Modernizing Process Safety Management: From Vision to Reality”, in which the Egyptian PSM Steering Committee shared the three-year roadmap and provided an update on the progress delivered during a challenging year in 2020 as well as presented the recent and newly launched website – www.PSMEgypt.com – providing the sector with credible information about PSM.
During the challenging time of the COVID-19 pandemic, Methanex maintained its safe operations and sustained production. Methanex also partnered with the Egyptian Food Bank to provide food boxes to more than 12,000 households in Damietta who have been significantly impacted by the pandemic. It was also one of the first responders to support the medical sector against COVID-19 through One Hand initiative launched by the Ministry of Petroleum and Mineral Resources and Egypt Oil & Gas Corporate Social Responsibility subcommittee. The initiative’s donations were used to purchase medical supplies and equipment such as medical gowns, goggles and surgical masks.
Throughout the past ten years, Methanex has been able to establish a safe methanol plant with a strong experienced and trained team supplying both the local and global markets. In addition, the company was able to create impact beyond its walls through aligning with Egypt’s Vision 2030, UN SDGs 2030 and the Ministry of Petroleum’s modernization strategy, driving significant transformation within the Egyptian oil, gas and petrochemical sectors as well as the community in Damietta.