Thirty Years for the Benefit of Atyrau
Atyrau Bonus Fund has financed the urgent needs of the region
Simultaneously with the creation of Tengizchevroil in 1993, an extensive 5-year program with a total budget of 50 mln US dollars began, aimed at solving urgent socio-infrastructural problems of the Atyrau region. The program was called the Atyrau Bonus Fund and was funded by Chevron Corporation.
The funds were allocated for the prevention and treatment of tuberculosis under the program of the World Health Organization, the construction and equipping of a diagnostic center in Atyrau, and a district hospital in Kulsary, the second largest settlement in the region, where many employees of the company and contractors still live.
TCO also financed the construction of a 25-kilometer gas pipeline from the Redut compressor station to the regional center, which allowed the gasification of enterprises and residential buildings. A new boiler room appeared in the city, equipped at that time with the latest technology, which solved the heat supply problem. To overcome the shortage of bread, TCO financed the construction of a new bakery building, thus solving the issue of the shortage of bakery products.
At the time, it became the first example of a large-scale program for solving the problems of the social sphere of the region by one enterprise in Kazakhstan.
In addition, the program's purpose was to unlock the local community's potential and encourage people to start their own businesses. For this purpose, in 1997, the company issued interest-free loans totaling $1 million to small enterprises of the Atyrau region.
In 1998, Tengizchevroil announced the completion of the Atyrau Bonus Fund program and the successful disbursement of the allocated funds.
Igilik: schools, stadiums, kindergartens
After that, the following year, TCO developed and adopted a new voluntary social and infrastructure development program called Egilik (translated from Kazakh as Blessing). Its key principle is that social projects should benefit as many people as possible. One seriously ill person can be treated, or a hospital can be built where thousands of people will be cured. A talented child can be supported, or the opportunity to reveal the talents of hundreds of children through the opening of sports or cultural centres.
Within the framework of Egilik, projects in healthcare, education, culture, and infrastructure that meet the criteria of long-term and sustainability are funded. This means that after commissioning, the owners should maintain them and serve people as long as possible. After TCO transfers the constructed object to the owner's balance sheet – Akimat, the balance holder nominated by Akimat, is responsible for further financing, maintenance of the object and its management.
By the 100th anniversary of Kazakhstan's oil in 1999, thanks to a new program, the facades of houses were reconstructed in Atyrau, a new building of Atyrau University, new schools were erected, the bank of the Ural River was stabilized, a new hospital building was built in Kulsary. The program's initial budget at that time was $4 mln, but TCO consistently increased the amount of investments. At first, up to an annual $8 mln, and up to $12 mln in the next three years. In 2009 and 2010, its yearly budget was already $20 million and $25 million since 2013.
Over the entire implementation period of the Egilik program, more than $300 mln have been disbursed, and more than 100 projects have been completed, resulting in more than 1,000 new jobs created for doctors, teachers and technical personnel. Among the socially significant objects implemented are the national gymnasium for gifted children with boarding school to ensure comfortable living for children from remote areas and a specialized technical gymnasium, and other schools of the city and region, kindergartens, hospitals, sports and recreation centers, cultural centers, a Retro Park on the banks of the Zhaiyk River, a flagpole and much more.
On the eve of the 30th anniversary of the Independence of the Republic of Kazakhstan, a new kindergarten for 280 children aged 3 to 7 years opened its doors in the suburban village of Rakusha. Everything necessary for harmonious development is provided here, including 14 group playgrounds with shade canopies and a sports ground where you can also study the rules of the road. The building has a gym for gymnastics and music classes, a gym for physical education, and a universal room for classes in interest groups. Earlier, similar modern kindergarten was opened in the Vodnikov village. In total, 17 kindergartens were built in the region under the Egilik program.
The same year, 2021, on the Day of Knowledge on September 1, a new school for 580 people in Kulsary, Zhylyoi district, accepted the first students. Students can gain knowledge in general education subjects and develop creative skills in ceramics workshops, metal and wood processing, fabrics class, and a culinary studio.
Tengizchevroil pays special attention to the development of the Zhylyoi district, on the territory of which it conducts its production activities, and its administrative centre, the city of Kulsary. The district accounts for about 60% of all projects implemented under the Egilik program. Within the framework of the program, 59 projects totaling more than $114 mln have been implemented in the district, including the modernization of water supply and sewerage networks in Kulsary, kindergartens, schools, health infrastructure facilities, parks, sports and recreation complexes, road repairs, clearing of the Kursai River with the improvement of the embankment and much more.
The life and health of people are the highest priority for TCO. Therefore, such an essential place in the Egilik program is occupied by healthcare institutions' support and medical infrastructure development.
In December 2021, the company launched a large project to purchase and donate critical medical equipment totaling $5 million for fourteen hospitals in Atyrau and districts of the region. In particular, this applies to buying expert-class ultrasound devices and non-invasive ventilation systems for newborns, lung ventilators, patient monitors, computed tomography devices, surgical devices, fluorography vehicles, etc.
It is worth telling about the program for the construction of sports and recreation complexes in remote villages – four have already been built since 2017. One of them is in the Maykomgen village. Although it opened relatively recently, in 2020, it can already be proud of the successes of its pupils. For example, not counting cups at regional and national competitions, the football club youth won 3rd place at the international football tournament held in Kyrgyzstan in 2021. In addition, they got to train in Kazakhstan's strongest futsal club, Kairat. And in the Akkiiztogai village, thanks to the sports complex built by TCO, there are already two candidates for masters of sports and prize-winners of national boxing competitions.
Tengizchevroil presented Kulsary with a modern central stadium with 3,000 seats. This is a fully equipped sports complex with an area of 4.7 thous. square meters. In addition to the main stadium, the complex is adjacent to a building with an indoor stadium for matches and games in winter, an indoor swimming pool and gyms. The company has provided for the purchase of all the necessary equipment for football, futsal, basketball, volleyball, and training. Thus, the new sports complex accommodates 3,250 people and allows classes to be held simultaneously in several sports all year round.
A platform for fruitful dialogue
To always have stable feedback from the local community, Tengizchevroil created a Public Advisory Council in 2010. During the pandemic, it temporarily suspended its work for obvious reasons, and last year its regular meetings in Kulsary resumed.
The council consists of representatives of the local administration of the Zhylyoi district and Kulsary, the district maslikhat, the chairman of the Public Council of the Zhylyoi district, the director of the regional Atameken Chamber of Entrepreneurs, TCO specialists, and representatives of public associations and other activists of the district. At the last meetings of the council, for example, such issues as employment opportunities in the TCO, employment of workers released after the completion of the Future Growth Project, landscaping of the city and villages, and the progress of projects under the Egilik program were discussed.
Over the years, the PAC has proved its importance and significance as a platform for dialogue between the population and business to most effectively implement social and infrastructure projects designed to improve the lives of residents of the region.
Community Investment Program
A logical continuation of TCO's large-scale and systematic assistance in solving social problems in the region has become a new philosophy in financing social projects within the framework of the Community Investment Program introduced in 2010. In simple terms, TCO stopped providing "fish" to individual people on individual requests and instead "equipped" activists and NGOs with the necessary tools so that they would teach those in need to use a "fishing rod" and provide themselves with "fish" on their own every day.
Already in the first year of the program's implementation, following the new strategy, TCO supported projects on language teaching, prevention of cardiovascular diseases, attracting volunteers to participate in environmental projects, supporting teachers in mastering computer technologies, and many others. Each project was supported by real teachers, doctors, schoolchildren and youth, for whom the opportunity to gain new knowledge and skills became essential for later life.
The criteria for selecting projects for financing are simple and transparent:
- The program is aimed at residents of the Atyrau region.
- The projects are based on business goals and the results of a joint assessment of the population's needs.
- The Community Investment Council, which includes representatives of different departments of TCO, selects projects.
- Grants are provided only to non-profit organizations (individuals or commercial firms are not considered).
- The NGO offers projects, i.e. ideas and implementation strategy, and TCO only finances them.
One of the brightest and most sustainable projects in the history of the Community Investment Program was the Zharkyra project, implemented by the Eurasia Foundation of Central Asia until 2022. As part of the project, residents of the region were taught the basics of social entrepreneurship, and at the end of the course, they were given grants and interest-free loans to the best projects. Over the years of implementation, the first loans have already been returned to the Fund and again left as new grants to the following recipients. This is an indicator of the sustainability and independence of the project. In addition, since last year, the Community Programs and Innovations Development Fund, an Atyrau NGO that has grown thanks to the cooperation of TCO and EFCA, has taken over the implementation of this project. Which also speaks about the professional growth of Atyrau NGOs.
Another illustrative project in the history of TCO is the NGO School program, which aims to strengthen the potential of non-governmental organizations in the region in solving social problems of communities and building civil society through training and exchange of experience, the provision of grants.
In total, 108 social projects totaling about $13.4 mln were implemented in 2010-2022 as part of the Community Investment Program. In 2022 alone, more than 100,000 people became direct and indirect beneficiaries of 14 social projects. And the budget of the program in 2023 amounted to $2.5 mln. Thanks to the increase in funding, it was possible to support 21 projects.
In addition to planned investments in social infrastructure and the development of civil society, TCO has been allocating funds for urgent care requests for many years. In 2019, the company financed the purchase of 50 passenger buses equipped with ramps for the transportation of people with disabilities and children in wheelchairs, which took routes in Atyrau and Kulsary of the Zhylyoi district.
During the COVID-19 pandemic, the company allocated more than $18 mln to fight the coronavirus, support the population and purchase medical equipment and sanitary supplies in the Atyrau region. Tengizchevroil donated equipment totalling about 41 mln tenge to the Atyrau Regional Rehabilitation Center, designed to improve the motor skills of the locomotor system for patients after stroke and with other serious diseases. The rehabilitation center annually serves about 1,000 people with disabilities from all districts of the region.
Under the TCO agreement with the regional Department of Employment and Social Programs, 100 pensioners and labor veterans, half of whom are residents of the Zhylyoi district, from November 2022 to April 2023, take a wellness course at the Atyrau sanatorium for free.
In 2019, TCO purchased medical equipment for the Zhylyoyski district for about $1 million, including resuscitation equipment, mobile ICUs, a light treatment device, an incubator for newborns, an ultrasound system, a mobile X-ray system for a trauma unit, computers and others.
In 2022, additional medical equipment worth more than $60,000 (IM70 patient monitor, electrocardiograph, fetal monitor) was purchased for the Zhylyoi District Hospital. Also, starting in 2018, 40 couples from the Zhylyoi district received financial support from TCO to receive medical services for IVF. At the moment, the company is considering the possibility of continuing this project.
A lot of help is provided to boarding schools in the region. In 2022, a sensory room was equipped in the Atyrau Center for the Provision of Special Social Services No. 3. Furniture and equipment for physics and biology classrooms were also purchased at the Atyrau Regional Special Boarding School.
In addition to implementing targeted projects, funds raised during several charity events and programs initiated by TCO employees within the framework of the corporate volunteer movement are directed to support orphans and children from socially vulnerable categories.
Tengizchevroil does not stop at the achieved results. And at the end of last year, it announced the launch of a new development program for the Zhylyoyski district, the first fruit of which was the STEAM education project Caravan of Knowledge.
The project was named Zhylyoi STEAM mekeni. It is aimed at the comprehensive development of STEAM education in the district, which will undoubtedly contribute to improving the quality of knowledge of schoolchildren in the district. As part of the program, a modern STEAM laboratory of the chemical-biological and physical-mathematical field was equipped in one of the schools of Kulsary, where children from all over the district can excitingly get additional knowledge for free.
In addition to equipment, teachers are being trained in STEAM techniques that they will be able to apply not only in the classroom in the laboratory but also in other lessons of the natural-mathematical cycle. This, in turn, will ensure the project's sustainability because teachers can transfer their knowledge and experience to more than one generation of young residents.