On its 40th anniversary, Qatar Petrochemical Company (QAPCO) Q.S.C., one of the leading petrochemical powerhouses in the region and a precursor in petrochemical production, celebrates its proud heritage and promising future, started by visionary pioneers. Since the establishment of QAPCO on the 9th of November 1974, by Emiri Decree No. 109, the company has never ceased to grow, progress and evolve. On the occasion of this important milestone, QAPCO’s Management shares some inspiring stories that characterize QAPCO’s four decades of unparalleled success.
“I am incredibly proud of our forty years of growth and excellence, inspired by our pioneers of the possible. Our successful and extraordinary journey rests on the minds and brilliance of many”, stated Eng. Hamad Rashid Al Mohannadi, Chairman of QAPCO. “It first started with a dream in 1974. By transforming a visionary idea into a reality, making the most of what we have been given, by further optimizing our hydrocarbon resources, QAPCO broke new grounds and paved the way to an entirely new and promising industry in the GCC, petrochemicals”, he added.
Unlocking natural resources potential - capturing the gas flows associated with oil production that were previously flared, and instead channeling those flows as feedstock for chemical production has made it possible to build an immense and highly profitable industry for the entire GCC region. QAPCO is the company that pioneered such an unprecedented development in 1974. QAPCO established the first petrochemical facility aimed at utilizing ethane, which was previously flared, to produce olefins, such as ethylene, and polyolefin for export. Utilizing ethane as a feedstock is common nowadays, but back then it was a first-timer and a revolutionary idea.
QAPCO positioned itself as a company that could lengthen the value chain of Qatar’s vast natural oil and gas resources.
Eng. Al Mohannadi continued by highlighting the steady evolution of the company through the years, “Our humble beginnings were followed by colossal capacity expansions, where we moved restlessly from one project to the next, marked by many milestones and memorable achievements, and QAPCO rapidly became recognized as a global leader in low density polyethylene production. As a pioneer in our industry, we have never ceased to build the strengths that would power us forward”.
In forty year, QAPCO increased its low-density polyethylene (LDPE) production capacity by 500% and today the company is recognized as a leader in its industry. LDPE is considered as the most widely used type of plastic, with applications such as food packaging, agricultural films, cables and wires, coating, and playing a key role in the development of green building solutions. LDPE’s innovative applications are used every everyday by millions of people all over the world.
Eng. Al Mohannadi added, “Our success story has been made possible through the visionary leadership of His Highness Sheikh Tamim bin Hamad Al Thani, the Emir of the State of Qatar, and with the wise guidance of HE Dr. Mohammed Bin Saleh Al-Sada, Minister of Energy and Industry. Our shareholders are also drivers of progress and their contribution has been essential to our four decades of growth. I would like to thank Qatar Petroleum and our shareholders, Industries Qatar and Total Petrochemicals France, as they are the foundation of our success. They have left their mark, influenced our corporate culture and propelled QAPCO in new eras of development thanks to their focus on assertive growth and sustainability. The unwavering commitment of our Board of Directors and Executive Management team, combined with the support of our partners has played a pivotal role in our journey towards success. QAPCO’s ambitions have become realities thanks to the remarkable dedication and outstanding commitment of our employees. I would like to thank each and everyone who worked with us at QAPCO, for having contributed to the rise of a leader”.
QAPCO’s fortieth anniversary is truly the occasion for the company to pay a tribute to all its employees. QAPCO believes that its employees determine the future of the company and are its most valuable asset. As such, QAPCO is holding celebrations in their honor in it plant in Mesaieed on the 9th of November 2014.
Dr. Mohammed Youssef Al Mulla, Vice Chairman and CEO of QAPCO acknowledged the contribution of all the QAPCO employees, “Forty years is a journey and ours has been extraordinary, marked by many milestones and unprecedented achievements. It is truly the men and women of QAPCO who have driven us where we are today. From our humble beginnings as the first petrochemical plant established in the Middle East in 1974, we transformed into a global and leading petrochemical powerhouse. Our employees expertize, loyalty and hard work along with their unwavering commitment to the highest standards of performance and excellence made us who we are. The QAPCO Family is at the heart of everything we do and a vital force that has always propelled us forward.”
QAPCO is blessed to count many pioneers who have been working with the company for more than 30 years and who have strongly contributed to building the QAPCO legacy.
Dr. Al Mulla recognized the instrumental influence of the QAPCO pioneers by saying, “Thanks to our pioneers’ continuous engagement and determination, over the years QAPCO has never ceased to evolve, grow and expand. Day-in and day- out, year after year, our pioneers contributed to the rise of a leader. They have been an inspiration for new generations of petrochemical experts and have shared with them the wealth of their knowledge and experience. Our incredible pioneers and our employees are our pillars of growth and we are grateful for their contribution to our success story. Together, we made history.”
From a staff of 20 people in 1978, the number of employees at QAPCO grew to 700 in the early eighties and reached 1,324 in 2014. Back in the late seventies, the main task was the recruitment and the training of the operating teams. QAPCO envisioned the workforce of the future and recruited international and local talents. The new enthusiastic and motivated recruits knew they were going to be part of something exceptional. To equip them with the most advanced technical skills to operate a complex petrochemical plant, small groups of employees were sent to France for training. Several Qataris participated in those intense coaching and development courses, becoming the first generation of Qatari petrochemical experts. At that time, no one in the Middle East had had any experience in operating a petrochemical plant.
Today, with Qatarization standing at 30.2%, national leadership is one of the driving forces of QAPCO and gives the company its cultural identity. Eng. Al Mohannadi commented on the impact of QAPCO’s learning and development strategy by saying, “Since our inception, human capabilities have been our focus and we are proud today to have shaped many talents and developed a strong local downstream expertise. This achievement is part of our legacy”.
Since its establishment on the 9th of November 1974, QAPCO has forged a strong corporate culture based on teamwork and knowledge transfer. The eagerness to make things happen and the feeling of being part of an extraordinary story characterized the QAPCO pioneers of the possible during the company’s early days. Forty years later, the QAPCO teams are still driven by a similar enthusiasm, an incredible team spirit and solidarity, and a passion for performance.
Forty years since QAPCO’s inception, petrochemicals continue to play a key role in Qatar’s National Vision 2030 to develop an internationally focused economy through growth of industrial and diversified economic sectors. As QAPCO focuses on R&D, innovation and delivering sustainable solutions, the company believes in the tremendous potential offered by the next generation of advanced materials that will be produced from Qatar’s natural resources.
Dr. Al Mulla added, “At QAPCO, we draw strength from the alignment of our strategy with the Qatar National Vision 2030. Our focus always has been on ensuring we participate in translating the vision into a reality. Furthermore, thanks to the innovative solutions that we produce and by virtue of their applications, we are proud to be part of an industry that empowers the world around us, supporting a sustainable and modern lifestyle for millions of people on the planet. We look forward to shaping together with our industrial partners the petrochemical industry of the future.”
The power of an idea has allowed QAPCO to become an industrial giant. It started with a visionary dream; the power of an idea would soon revolutionize an entire region. Here is how the QAPCO story began.
As the European petrochemical industry was emerging, the company CdF Chimie was created in 1966 in France and specialized in steam-cracking products, intermediates and thermoplastics. CdF Chimie rapidly became the frontrunner in its field and expanded its activities internationally, through the creation of plants and industrial platforms specializing in plastic production, notably in Asia. At that time, CdF Chimie was looking to develop new sources of plastics in markets offering attractive raw-materials, and expand in regions that were closer to its main client-base, Europe.
In April 1974, Mr. Jacques Petitmengin, CEO of CdF Chimie, and Mr. René Boudet, Chairman of Gazocéan, traveled for the first time to Qatar. During their visit, they meet with the leadership of the State of Qatar, and they proposed to build a ground-breaking and entirely new project for the region, an ethylene and polyethylene plant.
Qatar was very eager and committed to advancing the industrial development of the country and strongly believed in the extreme variety of downstream activities offered by polyethylene and the limitless possibilities engendered by its applications. Polyethylene had the potential to propel Qatar’s industrial sector into a new era of development, paving the way to a multitude of downstream industries. Therefore, the leadership of the State of Qatar took a bold but visionary initiative, by supporting and spearheading a pioneering project, which acted as a true catalyst for the growth of the national economy. The Memorandum of Association was signed in Doha on the 15th of August 1974 between the Government of the State of Qatar, CdF Chimie and Gazocean and QAPCO’s commercial registration was finalized on the 9th of November of the same year. The birth of an industry had just started. Qatar had laid the foundations for a promising industrial future. The petrochemical revolution in the GCC was in motion.
In the early seventies, Mesaieed had been identified as a strategic zone for the development of industrial activities and the city already had a functioning port, jetty facilities and an oil tanker terminal. Qatar Fertilizer Company (QAFCO) was the first plant in operations in entire industrial area.
The QAPCO plant was then built on a massive desert area, next to the QAFCO site, and was conceptualized to host integrated components that would facilitate daily operations within the future petrochemical complex. Construction work started in 1976, first with the jetty area, then in 1978 the construction of the LDPE 1 unit was in full swing, and by 1979 the administration building was finalized. At peak time, 2,000 workers participated to the construction of the QAPCO plant.
In March 1980, the utilities plant was fully operational and started functioning. For the first start-up of the ethylene plant, QAPCO received a shipment of ethylene from France. This was essential to start the ethylene unit, and at that time, there was no source of ethylene available in the Middle East. Finally, on the 3rd of the September of the same year, the first Made In Qatar polyethylene was produced. This was a landmark achievement for all the teams and it was duly celebrated.
On the 23rd of February 1981, the first LDPE plant in the Middle East was formally inaugurated. Government representatives from Qatar and France, including the French Minister of Energy along with key executives from CdF Chimie and QAPCO took part in the official launch of the plant. QAPCO started commercial production in 1981, with an initial annual output of 132,679 tons of ethylene. The plant also had the capacity to produce 140,000 tons of low density polyethylene and minor amounts of sulfur, generated as a by-product.
The day QAPCO exported its first shipment of ethylene was a milestone to remember. The ship transported the first-ever Qatari produced ethylene to Spain. The teams were thrilled by this historical moment. Conviviality, dedication, enthusiasm and passion were characterizing the QAPCO pioneers, who were all driven by the eagerness to make things happen. Beginnings were humble. However, the decade of the eighties witnessed the steady emergence of QAPCO as one of the most important petrochemical companies in the Gulf.