InterviewExxonMobil Back to Egypt’s Upstream: An Interview with Hesham El Amroussy, Chairman and Managing Director of ExxonMobil Egypt
Tuesday, 12th March 2019
,Mariana SomensiEJYPTE OILSND GAS
ExxonMobil has taken a step further in strengthening its ties with Egypt. The company rejoined the Egyptian upstream sector in February after being awarded exploration rights in the Mediterranean Sea, ending a period of exclusive downstream operations in the country. During the Egypt Petroleum Show (EGYPS 2019) Women in Energy Awards ceremony, held on February 13, ExxonMobil Egypt was also the winner of the Employer of the Year Championing Inclusion and Diversity award, which recognized the company’s effort towards including and empowering women in the sector.
Egypt Oil & Gas took interest in the company’s achievements and spoke to Hesham El Amroussy, Chairman and Managing Director of ExxonMobil Egypt. El Amroussy told us about the company’s plans in the newly awarded concession area as well as in the downstream sector, and shared with us the vision and policies that led the company to the recognition of employer of the year.
What does it mean to ExxonMobil to be back to Egypt’s upstream sector? Could you tell us about the company’s plans in the awarded area?
ExxonMobil has been awarded exploration rights to the Nile Delta Block 3 (North East El Amreya Offshore Block), following the Egyptian Natural Gas Holding Company’s (EGAS) international bid round. The block is located in the Mediterranean Sea, approximately 155 kilometers offshore Egypt. We will operate the Block 3 concession area on a 100% basis. We are truly excited about this new opportunity to expand ExxonMobil’s business in Egypt. The company has been a part of Egypt’s growth for over 115 years, and we look forward to playing a key role in the development of Egypt’s resources through the application of our upstream world-class expertise.
Why is it a perfect time to invest in Egypt’s upstream sector?
I consider ExxonMobil’s keen interest to invest in the upstream sector in Egypt a vote of confidence in the business environment at large. This comes on the backdrop of a progressive economic environment demonstrated by bold reform measures and effective implementation of the oil and gas sector’s modernization strategy. I have to commend the relentless efforts by the Ministry of Petroleum, under the leadership of minister Tarek El Molla, to improve the sector performance, attract investments and position Egypt as an energy hub. We are excited to invest in the upstream sector in Egypt and participate in the development of the country. This is indeed a significant milestone in ExxonMobil’s journey in Egypt that dates back to 1902, and we are proud to be part of the sector’s modernization.
How does ExxonMobil plan to contribute to the development of the country’s downstream activities?
Egypt is a unique market that is full of opportunities for doing business. As a market leader, we aspire to grow our business even further and continue to meet the needs of the Egyptian people. Our investment decisions are guided by a long-term strategy, that aims to maintain the highest standard of operational excellence, enable business growth and empower our world-class workforce. On the downstream side, we deliver high-performance lubrication solutions, which provide improved energy efficiency, enhanced equipment life and productivity benefits. We are capitalizing on our state-of-the-art lubricant manufacturing plants to supply the local market and export to more than 40 countries. Moreover, we continue to grow our network of Mobil retail service stations and strive for flawless operations. We continue to expand our famous “On The Run” and nurture our newly born “Way To Go” chain of convenience retail stores. At ExxonMobil, we are constantly improving our offering, simply put, the Egyptian customer is front and center of everything we do.
Considering the Ministry of Petroleum’s efforts to modernize the oil and gas sector, how can the Egyptian market benefit from the fuel subsidies reform?
The large fuel subsidies that have been adopted historically have presented a burden on Egypt’s budget and negatively impacted efforts for sustainable economic growth. Therefore, I view the fuel subsidy reform policy as a critical component of any meaningful economic development in Egypt. Fuel subsidy reform milestones in July 2014, November 2016, June 2017 and June 2018, speak of a strong political will and a steadfast commitment to face one of the main economic crippling challenges. This policy has been highly appreciated by the business community both in Egypt and internationally, and has been praised by world renowned organizations such as the International Monetary Fund (IMF), the World Bank and international credit rating agencies. This all translated into better investor confidence. Clearly, the fuel subsidy reform is a journey, but we are encouraged with the progress. We also commend the overall approach where tough economic measures were buffered by effective enhancements in the social safety net. With the decades-awaited fuels subsidy reform, Egypt can finally enable effective channeling of resources to support inclusive growth objectives and permit the market to reach higher levels of economic efficiency through demand rationalization.
ExxonMobil won the Employer of the Year Championing Inclusion and Diversity Award at EGYPS 2019 Women in Energy Awards. What assertive actions have led the company to this achievement?
ExxonMobil Egypt’s efforts to support and advance women took center stage at the 2019 Egypt Petroleum Show (EGYPS), where the company took home the Show’s highest honor “Employer of the Year for Championing Inclusion & Diversity”. For years, we have worked hard to attract, retain and advance women in Egypt. It is an honor to have been recognized in such a prestigious way. Women play a critical role in our success. ExxonMobil Egypt’s efforts to eliminate gender bias led to marked improvements in the representation of women across all functions. Last year marked the official launch of the Women Interest Network (WIN) Egypt Chapter with significant momentum and activities. In the same year, the overall rate of female hiring doubled versus previous years. Qualified competent females now hold positions that have been historically “male-staffed”. Additionally, programs like workplace flexibility and paid parental leave extensions helped us achieve 100% female retention after maternity leave. Externally, our focus on women extends to programs that help create and sustain businesses and income generating activities with impact reaching thousands of women and girls across Egypt.
In your opinion, how does the sector benefit from inclusive and diversified working environments?
Diversity is a broad term that touches on people’s differences, such as culture, experience, class, race and gender, while inclusion creates a sense of belonging, feeling respected and valued for being oneself despite these differences. Inclusive and diversified working environments create an opportunity for all individuals to advance in their careers and reach their full potential. When it comes to women in the workplace, the previous statement cannot be more true. In our sector, if at the recruitment level women are lucky to be equally represented, by the time they advance to the more senior levels, their percentage could drop drastically. At ExxonMobil, we place a special focus on the female talent pipeline to reduce the barriers women face in their career path and to ultimately give them fair chance to compete. ExxonMobil Egypt is proud of the inclusive and diverse working environment it is providing for its female employees, and is proud of the senior female leaders working in affiliates around the world.
During EGYPS 2019, ExxonMobil also promoted the Youth Engagement Program to attract high school students to the oil and gas sector. How can the industry develop a new generation of young professionals?
The Youth Engagement Program organized during EGYPS 2019 was a true success. The level of engagement of high school students and the interest they showed in the oil and gas sector was simply outstanding. The Ministry of Petroleum’s Modernization Project focuses on human resources development and capacity building being one of its key pillars. As such, building a comprehensive program for learning and development of people at large and youth in particular is critical to the success of the overall strategy.
ExxonMobil Egypt has been cooperating with the modernization team, based on our belief that the ultimate goal of capacity building can only be reached by sincere efforts exerted jointly by the government and the private sector. ExxonMobil Egypt has been focusing on education and development programs within schools and universities to build a foundation of capable leaders. One of the prominent programs that help promote science and technology is the science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM) school supported by ExxonMobil Egypt in Suez, which develops students with creative and talented minds, in preparation of the new generation of petroleum employees.
Moreover, the Oil and Gas Committee of the American Chamber of Commerce in Egypt, which I am honored to chair, has developed a leadership program targeting selected managers within the ministry and its companies. I believe this program could be quite useful for development of the young talents within the ministry.