After completing feasibility study and a due diligence process, NACAG´s partner plant operator in Mexico, Soluciones Quimicas, is now standing before the main stage of the cooperation – procurement and installation of mitigation and abatement technologies. Soluciones Quimicas´s teamtells the story of cooperation with NACAG from the plant´s perspective.
Soluciones Quimicas, located in Minatitlán, Veracruz, is one of the three nitric acid producers that became eligible for financial support through NACAG after the Mexican Ministry of Environment (SEMARNAT) signed the commitment for permanent reduction of industrial nitrous oxide emissions in February 2020.
The plant that started its operation under the name “Fertilizantes del Istmo S.A” in 1964 has a long and colourful history. Having gone through the nationalisation in the 60s, reprivatisation in the 90s, strikes and technical stoppages, in 2000, the plant has opened a new page in its history under the new name Soluciones Quimicas para el Campo y la Industria S.A. de C.V. While the plant has previously monitored some of its emissions, conducted environmental audit and adopted a plan for corrective actions for environmental incidents, collaboration with NACAG is currently its main and most significant ecological project.
The head of operations, Juan Pestana, says that the primary motivation for joining the initiative was to improve ecology that might be achieved through emissions reduction. In the beginning, the plant was also driven by the desire to improve its relations with the local community, for which environmental protection is an important aspect of a sensitised producer. However, according to Juan, as the cooperation proceeded, the team realised that Soluciones Quimicas might profit from the collaboration in an unexpected manner for the team.
Before procuring and installing mitigation and monitoring equipment, NACAG´s partner plant operators have to accomplish the so-called due diligence procedure – assesing the plant´s technical, legal, financial and operational capacity covering environmental, social, health and gender safeguards. For NACAG, the due diligence procedure is a necessary step to identify risks for the cooperation. For the plant operator, it is an additional opportunity to get the perspective of leading international consultancies and learn with it. The due diligence is conducted by a third independent company. In the case of Mexico, a consortium of two companies, Ernst and Young and First Climate, was responsible for this task. Soluciones Quimicas´s industrial lawyer Gustavo Diaz shares that advice from international consultants obtained during the due diligence procedure helped to improve plant´s operational processes.
Soluciones Quimicas did not only successfully accomplished the assessment but succeeded in the process of planning a list of corrective actions necessary for diminish the risks identified during the process. The CEO, Blanca Rivera, believes that the due diligence procedure helped identify blind spots and improve business processes. Alongside implementing technical and legal recommendations, the enterprise has revised and improved its management approaches. Environmental analyst Estefania Valencia who closely worked with international consultants, says that this experience “has rebelled the reality of her work”. As for the plant, it was the first experience of cooperation with international donors, Estefania and other team members had to gather and organise a lot of documents and revise business processes.
“At the beginning of the cooperation with NACAG, my expectations were very tough. When the NACAG Secretariat presented the project, I thought that it would be tough; the work plan was challenging. But then, I was surprised, how smooth everything went”, so Ms. Valencia.
Collaboration with the initiative became an excellent opportunity to practice SCRUM – an innovative framework for agile project management that was introduced right before the launch of cooperation with the initiative. Ms. Rivera believes that the due diligence has enabled the enterprise to implement international standards and positively influenced its corporate culture. Jose Luis Cruz, responsible for process supervision in chemical solutions, believes that the plant has significantly improved its standards adhering to international standards.
After closing the grant agreement, the next step in the implementation process is the tendering process for the procurement and installation of mitigation technology that best suits the plant´s needs. While the best technical options are outlined in the feasibility study, Soluciones Quimicas, like all other NACAG´s partner plant operators, make the final decision on the technology type.
Soluciones Quimicas´s team believes that climate-friendly transformation is not only a noble goal but a mandatory step that all sensitised and future-oriented producers should take not only for this but for the future generations. As of August 2021, NACAG has 14 partner plant operators in eight countries eligible for financial support and is in contact with dozens of nitric acid producers worldwide. The growing number of plant operators that, like Soluciones Quimicas, are willing to take climate action highlights the industry´s readiness and willingness for climate-friendly transformation.
Fotos – @ Soluciones Quimicas