Mr. Abdulrahman Jawahery
President of Gulf Petrochemical Industries Company (GPIC)
for The Oil & Gas Year Bahrain 2009
- How do you see the future evolution of the petrochemical industry globally and in the region? What are the challenges and opportunities?
- What are your expectations for the global energy sector in the next 5 years?
- With global economic downturn investments into petrochemicals have slowed down, how is it impacting your operations?
The petrochemical and fertilizer business is a noble industry. With the growth of the world’s population we need petrochemicals and fertilizers even more than any other time.
Products are used as additives in the process of making wood substitutes and fuel additives i.e. our products preserve the environment and nature.
The future is very promising for the region. Around 40% of oil and gas reserves are located in the GCC area. However, our contribution to the chemical and petrochemical market is only 10%. Hence, it is only logical that countries and companies strive to utilise the natural resources and increase their production capacities.
In my opinion, the best way to combat such downturns is to be responsible and consistent in your leadership long before any crisis. Continuous investment in people and systems allows organisations not only to make it through such periods, but also take advantage of these economic situations to become stronger.
In our case, we have taken the opportunity to streamline our process throughout. There is demand for our products and being able to continuously produce high quality products is our prime objective. Gaining the trust of the customers is a long term investment. We genuinely care about our customers and always try to understand their requirements and exceed them.
We visit them and survey their requirements and invite them to witness our operational excellence. Most of our customers highly value our corporate social responsibility and the fact we care about and develop our society.
It is true the prices of our products have dropped significantly; however, there is still strong demand for our products worldwide. This industry has proven itself as one of the best value additions to natural gas and it should grow and flourish.
Our sustainability very much depends on our success in embracing renewable energy in everything we do. We all need to cooperate, not only in this industry, for this is a universal issue and is our future. We see that energy in cities and buildings. I will be extremely happy when I see that we are taking maximum advantage of renewable energy sources in industrial plants and complexes. I am optimistic that we will witness more and more in the near future and hope that we can develop our legal and business systems proactively to take more advantage and for this to become the norm.
This part of the world will continue to be a major region for oil and gas based industries because of the reserves. In my opinion, our challenges can be summarised as: Developing human talents to effectively lead, operate and develop our industry.
Research and development capabilities are also a big challenge, which we have to conquer, if we want to be a leading region.
The winners are those who will utilise the economic downturn positively, for flexible and adaptable companies and those who have been effectively leading their organisations and planning for the future, this is the best time to invest, acquire and commit to expansion; especially now that better prices can be negotiated and resources are available.
What gives you the confidence that you will be able to outperform everyone else in the industry?
Gulf Petrochemical Industries Company was established in December 1979 as a joint venture between GCC member states for the manufacture of fertilisers and petrochemicals. Today, the company's activities represent natural gas purchases, employment and training of Bahraini nationals, utilisation of local contractors, power consumption and other financial and commercial operations. Since inception, we have embraced two major philosophies:
- The Triple Bottom Line approach; whereby we measure our success on profitability, social responsibility and enhancing the environment.
- We are in a continuous benchmarking process with ourselves. We strive to stretch objectives and challenge ourselves to do better all the time.
Our culture of teamwork, respect and search for excellence, motivates us and are unique features compared to others. We continuously invest in developing our workforce to be competent and adapt to various situations and be result oriented. In a nutshell, our staff members are our source of confidence in our venture to maintain and outperform our previous achievements.
We have won an enormous number of prestigious world class awards any organisation can be proud of winning. We are the only company in the world to receive both the Sir George Earle Trophy from the Royal Society for the Prevent of Accidents (RoSPA) UK and the Robert W. Campbell Award from the National Safety Council, USA.
- Can you explain to our audience your business model?
- How attractive are petrochemicals?
GPIC’s vision is to be a global, dynamic world-class petrochemical and fertiliser company of choice recognised for excellence. Our business model is based on the triple bottom line approach. We not only strive for operational excellence which leads to profitability, but we also excel in enhancing the health, safety and environment and also fully assume our corporate social responsibility. We are in competition with ourselves; whatever we do we want to do in the absolutely best possible manner. One aspect of our operation, which is also vibrant, is the ability to influence others outside the boundaries of our complex and kingdom. Some of our environmental projects and approaches are being adopted worldwide in industry. Many universities use us as a case study and others refer to us as a uniquely passionate organisation in a class of its own.
Petrochemical industries are very attractive and time has proven their steadiness and relevance to life. Despite the economic downturn, we never stopped producing or released any staff. Furthermore because it of high demand, the prices are picking up rapidly.
- How are you going to reach this goal?
- What are the major challenges that GPIC is facing today?
GPIC's achievements are numerous and the company is proud to have won many significant awards. However, our challenge is to maintain our achievements and also achieve sustainability. We intend to do this through continuous development and coaching of our people who are the true heroes and heroines of GPIC and any other company. We are focussing on streamlining our entire business to further increase our flexibility and adaptability to meet our customer’s requirements. We have taken all possible measures to protect the shareholder’s assets and investments by carrying out various activities, some of which are:
- We have reviewed our insurance policies and enhanced them to favour GPIC
- We have introduced a comprehensive Enterprise Risk Management System
- We have invested in modernisation of our complex instruments and digital equipment
- We are implementing our maintenance and modification programmes
- We are enhancing our safety and security systems, procedures and equipment
- We have strategic alliance with our shareholders, licensers, the Gulf Petrochemical and Chemical Association (GPCA), Arab Fertilizer Association (AFA), International Fertilizer Industries Association (IFA) and many universities and research centres
- Can you elaborate on this?
- What is the signification of such awards for GPIC?
- What is GPIC’s main responsibility in economic development of Bahrain?
The company employs 521 people (including trainees) of whom 82% are Bahrainis. The people of GPIC are said to form the golden key to the company's future success and achievement. The significance of these awards is that we are on the right track and the world is appreciating our efforts.
This is one way of benchmarking us to best-in-class practice and giving us feedback, which is always positive.
Below is a summary of the major recent achievements and recognitions received by GPIC for exceptional performance:
- Late Prime Minister of Lebanon Rafiq Al Hariri Award for Best Maintenance System in the Arab world
- Best Methanol Plant – Johnson Matthey Benchmarking
- GCC Labour Ministers Council Award for nationalisation
- Sir George Earle Trophy from RoSPA (UK) as the only organisation from outside Europe and North America
- Kingdom of Saudi Arabia Award for Environmental Management
- Institution of Chemical Engineers (UK), ABB Engineering Services Environmental Award
- Late Prime Minister of Lebanon Rafiq Al Hariri Award for Best Operation System in the Arab world
- Certification to ISO 27001 Information Security Management System
- RoSPA International Sector Award
- GPIC launched its International Dilmun Environmental Award in coordination with RoSPA, UK
- First place in vocational Training and Bahrainisation in the private sector from Ministry of Labour, Bahrain
- GCC Best Environmentally Managed Organisation in the private Sector
- RoSPA International Sector Award
- Recertification to OHSAS 18001:1999
- Ministry of Labour, Bahrain Award for Excellence in Training and Qualifying local workforce
- Ministry of Labour, Bahrain General Excellence Award, Category ‘A’
- RoSPA International Sector Award – UK
- Robert W. Campbell Safety Award - USA
- Kingdom of Saudi Arabia Award for Environmental Management
- Middle East Best Customized Marketing Material for e-Learning Solutions
- Her Highness Shaikha Sabeeka Award for Empowerment of Women
- Ministry of Labour, Kingdom of Bahrain: Award for ‘The Outstanding Companies in Training and Human Resources Development - 2008' - First Place
- Al Hariri Award for ‘Distinguished Maintenance Engineer’ by Abdul Ameer Al Mulla, GPIC Electrical Maintenance Superintendent
- British Safety Council Safety Award.
- 2009 Middle East ‘Best Learner Adoption Statistics’ e-Learning Award from SkillSoft.
We have contributed significantly to the economy of Bahrain. A total amount of US$ 24 Billion has been injected into the economy since the inception of the company. This includes local purchases, use of local contractors, gas consumption, financial charges paid to local financial institutes, dividends paid to the Government, social contribution and donations, all of which amounts to an average of US$ 103 Million every year. This is in addition to numerous conferences and events we hold in the Kingdom of Bahrain which are attended by the entire chemical and petrochemical community worldwide.
We truly believe that the biggest contribution is our training and development of local talent capable of running this industry and competing effectively internationally.
How are training programs managed? / What is your training strategy? How important is it for GPIC to employ locals?
The training and development of Bahraini employees remains a top priority of GPIC’s management. The aim of the training policy is comprehensive development of Bahrainis through training courses designed and conducted by the company’s Training Centre. Courses are aimed at both new recruits as well as the continuous development of experienced employees.
These courses include theoretical and practical training and are conducted in-house, locally or abroad. For example, the manpower during 2009 was 473 plus 48 trainees. The cumulative number of trainees who have completed their training since inception stands at 406, out of these 83 are engineers. Trainees are appointed in various positions such as Plant Operators, Technicians, Chemists, Engineers and Supervisors after successful completion of the comprehensive training programme.
By the end of 2009 the overall Bahrainisation level achieved in the company was 82%. In addition to conducting training courses for new graduates, the Training Centre also supervises the development of staff members to prepare them for occupying senior supervisory positions in the future. The Training Centre arranged a number of training and development programmes to meet the company’s needs both inside and outside Bahrain, in addition to the periodic awareness and enhancement programmes with regard to safety, health and the environment held for all the new employees. GPIC established a scholarship programme to encourage employees to complete their university studies and this programme also includes the support of outstanding university students and the award of scholarships to employees’ children.
During 2009 the programmes for the e-learning centre included communication skills, financial resources management, self-development skills, security, health and environment courses, computer applications, leadership skills and project management skills. Around 2000 training-hours were completed by attendees. In November 2009, GPIC won the 2009 Middle East ‘Best Learner Adoption Statistics’ Award from SkillSoft in recognition of the success of the e-learning facility at GPIC.
GPIC staff members are proof that locals, if given the opportunity and trained, respected and coached, will impress the world. Today, we receive many external requests for our staff members to be part of associations, committees and conferences as well as participating in many other voluntary work activities in all fields. This is a good sign of the effective Human Resource Development Strategy that we follow.
As a petrochemical company, it seems that you have been very concerned by corporate social responsibility right from the beginning, which is one of the major issues in today’s world. Can you elaborate on this?
GPIC is considered a role model in the protection of the environment as it is the first industrial company to use practical demonstration projects to verify the eco-friendliness of its operations, such as the ISO-14001 environmental standard for example.
We believe that enterprises of the future cannot ignore Corporate Social Responsibility. Customers are becoming more aware and influence purchase decisions and they expect companies to be more active socially. We believe that being genuine and not only generous is important. Developing the society and supporting key initiatives are very important. We have always focused on charity and educational projects with maximum reach and impact on society, including individuals and entities which serve all sectors of the society that are often neglected. Some of the impacts are so great such as saving lives or helping needy people to receive decent education. The positive feedbacks we receive from such contributions give us the momentum to continue.
We handsomely reward the children of our staff when they achieve educational distinction in any discipline. Strongly believing in education, as one of the best life changing instruments, we have an ambitious plan to encourage the children of all our staff members to be university graduates. The children of today are the leaders of tomorrow, if we prepare them for it. We also organise many events for our staff members and their families, whereby we expose them to many good concepts such as; safety, quality and health issues.
As an expert in the chemical industry, how have you lent your personal knowledge and experience to spearhead GPIC?
We at GPIC are blessed with a team dedicated to improving all aspects of the company. We are also blessed by an extremely supportive Board of Directors who spares no efforts in giving us guidance and advice to implement all our plans and to move forward with the organisation.
GPIC has also been very fortunate to have shareholders like SABIC and PIC who have also been very supportive since the inception of GPIC, providing training and technical assistance throughout GPIC’s history. With such dedication and encouragement from everybody, my job as a leader of this organisation seems easy. We always attribute our success at GPIC to the team spirit prevailing and it is embedded in the GPIC culture.
What kind of initiatives have you taken to make GPIC an international player? How are you motivating your team?
GPIC maybe small in size compared with the regional and international giants in both the petrochemical and fertilizer industries. However, we at GPIC make sure of our presence and active participation in most of the regional and international events and conferences pertaining to these fields. In this way we can learn from pioneering organisations in these fields and at the same time share with the rest of the world some of GPIC’s unique experiences and impressive records.
GPIC employees are the true ambassadors for their company and country. Their attitude, professionalism and hard work have gained respect locally, regionally and internationally. My contributions to this wonderful team are to give them the respect they fully deserve and to support and encourage them to always excel in whatever we do.
What is the present production capacity of fertiliser and petrochemicals at GPIC? Is there a plan for enhancing it? Could you share your latest profitability figures?
All the plants were operated in a reliable, safe and efficient manner whilst maintaining the specified standards in terms of quality for all products. All the targets approved by the Board of Directors for production and export were achieved well within schedule. At the end of the year Ammonia production was 468,890 tonnes, Urea production was 652,160 tonnes and Methanol production was 409,151 tonnes. The total combined production (Ammonia + Urea + Methanol = 1,530,201 tonnes) for the year was 3.45% above the budget. The total saleable production (Ammonia + Urea + Methanol = 1,162,389 tonnes), for the year was 3.7% above the budget.
Despite the financial difficulties throughout the world and drastic collapse of product prices, the company still expects to maintain a high net profit figure for 2009, adding value to the shareholders and the Bahrain economy.