Harvey Weake - Methanex Corporation’s senior vice-president of manufacturing and North America - is recognised for his ability as a leader and his passion and commitment to the company and New Zealand’s future energy interests.
In a career of more 30 years, 2013 will stand out with the restart of the firm’s Waitara Valley Plant and the refurbishment of the company’s Motunui units the same year.
The projects increased the company’s methanol production by 700,000 tonnes a year, with the potential to take that to 900,000 tonnes depending on gas composition.
Completed on time and significantly under their $250 million budget, the projects are the culmination of a strategy Harvey has pursued tenaciously since the near closure of the New Zealand Methanex operations in 2008.
His personal investment in the maintenance of a long-term, sustainable business was instrumental in the $500 million programme of capital refurbishments completed during the past six years. In that time Harvey rebuilt the organisation from 85 employees to 240 and brought the company back to running at full capacity with more methanol production than ever.
The Waitara Valley restart and the debottlenecking and upgrade at Motunui could see the company’s annual net export revenues exceed $900 million – three-times that in 2011.
A Business and Economic Research Limited (BERL) economic report has forecast Methanex will contribute $440 million to Taranaki's GDP and $650 million to the New Zealand GDP annually at full three-plant production. This includes generating 650 jobs in Taranaki and more than 1200 jobs throughout New Zealand.
The success of both projects can be attributed to Harvey’s drive and his innovation, which included a change in the company’s structure to provide a clearer financial focus and control.
Harvey was also active in guiding these major projects with strong safety performance. The Motunui project involved execution and completion of approximately 1,150 jobs involving up to 1300 people on site at peak times within 75 days - 74 of which were recorded as injury free.
Health and safety was promoted through sponsored initiatives and celebrations surrounding health and safety objectives, as well as the introduction of the ‘Safety Here for our Community’ programme, an innovative concept that linked safe days with funding community organisations. For each day without a lost-time injury, Methanex gave a set amount to nominated local charities.
Harvey helped develop the concept to create an ‘honourable alignment’ between the company’s health and safety objectives, and the broader community that relies on the company maintaining a safe work place.
Harvey has been described by a director at Methanex as being an inspirational leader, particularly during the earlier years of uncertainty and major downsizing. His optimism and commitment to on-going methanol production in New Zealand ensured the retention of key staff.
His open and honest style of communication with employees has earned their trust and helped maintain morale and work satisfaction. He builds positive relationships with staff members through regular site visits and by joining in with work groups to share his passion for the energy industry.
Harvey has also displayed strong leadership and personal responsibility for the industry’s future across a wider spectrum through his involvement in several national business and engineering institutions as a lecturer, judge and mentor.
He is well-regarded throughout the broader industry and is recognised for both the skill with which he negotiates contracts and the respect he shows suppliers and contractors.
The 2012 partnership he secured with Todd Energy enabled the restart of Motunui -2 and paved the way for further gas supply. The agreement was crucial to achieving full capacity of the operation and has cemented the company’s long-term future and its position as Taranaki’s largest single exporter.
The Energy Executive of the Year Award category is sponsored by WorleyParsons