The small geographic size of the West African country of Equatorial Guinea belies the nation’s stature in the global energy industry. Once a country whose economy was based largely on cocoa and banana plantations, over the past 12 years Equatorial Guinea has emerged as a key producer and exporter of oil and natural gas to help meet the world’s growing energy needs. In fact, it is currently the third largest oil and gas producer in Sub-Saharan Africa.
Accompanying this tremendous growth have been challenges related to infrastructure, education and healthcare, but the nation’s economy has proved resilient, even in the face of the global economic problems of the past few years. In fact, Equatorial Guinea’s economy effectively recovered from the global recession in the period spanning 2011-12, having been stimulated by heightened oil prices and a number of sizeable investments in public infrastructure and hotels.
Continued significant investments by the Equatoguinean government and foreign companies are contributing to the nation’s ability to address the challenges it faces. In their drive to further CSR goals, many companies are investing not only in the specific assets associated with their operations, but in community projects and initiatives. These are aimed at increasing local content and the capacity of Equatoguineans to play an increasing role in the development of their country’s abundant natural resources.
Perhaps most indicative of corporate citizenship and CSR in this sense is Equatorial Guinea LNG Company SA (EG LNG), a producer of liquefied natural gas (LNG). The company’s mission is to “…develop our staff with an emphasis on recruiting and training nationals, and to be seen as a responsible corporate citizen both throughout Equatorial Guinea and beyond.”
Development and reliability
EG LNG comprises a staff of approximately 300 individuals, representing 15 countries and six continents. Coordinating Manager Manuel Alvarez says the company “is very much the poster child of Equatorial Guinea. A young company where integrity and social responsibility are among the highest of its core values”.
Since delivering its first LNG cargo on May 24, 2007, EG LNG has emerged as one of the world’s foremost LNG suppliers in terms of speed of development and exceptional reliability. More importantly, it has emerged as a source of hope to a region where national interests have too often been forsaken in favour of profits.
Presently an independent enterprise owned ultimately by four shareholders – Marathon Oil Corporation, Sonagas, Mitsui & Co, and Marubeni Corporation – EG LNG encompasses an array of expertise and understanding in its continued operations throughout Equatorial Guinea and beyond.
EG LNG’s standout Train 1 project currently produces in excess of its nameplate capacity of 3.72 million metric tonnes of natural gas per annum. Far from its achievements being exclusive to the energy sector, EG LNG has made – and continues to make – a sizeable contribution to the local community.
EG LNG… is very much the poster child of Equatorial Guinea
EG LNG’s pledge towards developing National Content – a component of CSR – “encompasses initiatives to build the capacity of local vendors and contractors,” says Commercial Director Pat Sanders. “An important objective is to help create an enabling environment and thereby improve local companies’ capacity to supply goods and services that meet EG LNG’s quality, cost and schedule requirements.”
The company, in light of this objective, has championed measures to improve access to finance, provide training in business skills to entrepreneurs and hold a variety of National Supplier Forums to communicate both its procurement, and contracting processes and to forge relationships with potential suppliers. Furthermore, Sanders says: “Where appropriate, local companies and entrepreneurs are encouraged to partner with foreign companies to gain exposure to additional technologies and processes.”
However, EG LNG’s contributions to the community are not exclusively matters of a purely business-centric nature – the company is also committed to developing initiatives in support of those that are entirely societal and cultural in nature.
Far from merely craving headline worthy acts of CSR, EG LNG seeks to maximise the impact and sustainability of its community initiatives on all platforms. Sanders maintains: “Stakeholder engagement and continuous dialogue [are] at the core of EG LNG’s community relations strategy. By building relationships within the Equatoguinean community and by implementing sustainable development projects, EG LNG strives to improve living standards and to benefit future generations.”
The company’s strategic objectives for community relations are: to support education and vocational training programmes; implement sports and youth empowerment programmes; expand access to clean water in Malabo and surrounding communities; and to improve health in a general sense.
Whether it’s the company’s building of schools, sports and medical facilities, donation of supplies and information technology to schools, campaigns to inform youths of sexually transmitted infections, partnership with John Hopkins to lower maternal and neonatal mortality or construction of deep water wells throughout the surrounding region – all of which EG LNG has undertaken or is undertaking in pursuit of its strategic objectives – the company, in all its operations, strives to proceed with an implacable air of integrity and transparency. It looks to uphold its reputation as a charitable and exacting organisation.
Where possible, EG LNG works with grassroots community organisations and NGOs, intending to hand projects over to the community on completion and ensure a marked degree of sustainability in their continued workings.
Sanders says: “EG LNG principally strives to maintain a steadfast reputation as a socially responsible company and as an outstanding corporate citizen. Our unwavering commitment to serving as a good neighbour is evidenced in our community initiatives, support of local businesses and in the lives of our employees. People from across the company – engineers, operators, administrators, managers and directors – are prepared to dedicate their time to volunteer in the community.” This, in part, illustrates the sustained benefits of EG LNG’s resolute commitment to upstanding CSR values.
Perhaps most imperative of EG LNG’s commitments is that of the professional development of its workforce. Sanders says: “This commitment not only covers on-job competency development, but also classroom and workshop-based training, as well as externally run courses. Our commitment provides employees with the opportunity to attain news skills, enhance their knowledge and expertise, together with having the opportunity to work alongside diverse cultures.”
EG LNG’s stated policy is intended to foster a continual learning work environment, in which employees are granted the necessary skill sets, experience and background to make a continued contribution to a world-class LNG facility. EG LNG’s employees can readily pursue a range of advancement opportunities to positions of increasing responsibility and scope. Progression is based on individual performance, attainment of competencies relevant to the position, and personal initiative.
The company’s far-reaching initiatives of advancement – internal or otherwise – are indicative of EG LNG’s overriding goals in their contribution to the long-term success of Equatorial Guinea as a whole.