What challenges did you encounter with the Al Taweelah Power & Steam Expansion EPCM project in the UAE?
The Al Taweelah project is our first large-scale EPCM offering in the region. One may see it fundamentally as a power plant expansion, which is why, initially, it was considered a regular EPC offering. The project involves a complex process of integrating a new power block with the existing power plant which supplying steam, power, and utilities to the USD3-billion greenfield alumina refinery. Through our power team in Canada and our project delivery groups in South Africa and the UAE, there was a blend of knowledge, skills, and expertise that allowed us to meet the necessary timeline. The challenge was picking up a prior EPC contract structure and converting that to EPCM delivery whilst ensuring the correct quality and schedule was met. The fact that this project was a complex, brownfield development integrated with a currently operating power plant delivering product to a costly greenfield development presented additional challenges that have all been overcome throughout project delivery.
What solutions do industrial facilities the UAE and Abu Dhabi require to optimize their operational assets?
Industrial optimization requires a thorough technical and financial diagnostic of older facilities, and then executing the various debottlenecking, upgrade and sustaining capital project optimizations, which will bring them up to current best practice. Many owners of industrial assets in the UAE and the greater region have realized there is a great deal of underutilized value within their facilities and are making efforts to undertake the costly planning to access this value. Hatch, with industrial assets as its key competence, has many methods to bring the true industry knowledge to this process; much of the true value is realized by optimization of the process and operations rather than the balance sheet. In recent times, data analytics play a far greater role in our ability to monitor, optimize, and access the true value of the assets, and in this way, the region is transforming many of its older utilities and industrial plants into best practice operations.
What is your opinion on the water-power axis issue concerning desalination plants here?
In terms of life-cycle efficiencies that can be gained from water use and re-use alongside the corresponding power savings, there is an inverse exponential relationship to effort, with some of the major gains having already been made in this region. A few decades ago, goods and assets were traditionally not reused for both effort and cultural reasons. That tide has turned, and now we see many initiatives being pursued such as consumption minimization techniques, net zero discharge targets for industrial facilities, and grey water being used in communities. As we proceed, available improvements will lead to smaller gains, which will require the use of data analytics and thorough technical reviews to make the wisest investments.
What is your assessment of the in-country value (ICV) program?
Abu Dhabi's recent changes reflect a shift to a more mature, globally centric economy. For years, the government has been wise in its application of resources, leading to an economy that is extremely different from the traditional capitalist model. However, in recent months we have seen the application of VAT and more opportunities for international investment in terms of business licensing and so on to energize the next level of investment required. The government has to assist access to private land, private capital, and private investment. ICV is a crucial step that will assist this process now that competition is opening up with the recent reforms in incoming investment. As long as ICV is treated realistically, with the framework being applied to a resource pool in existence, rather than unrealistic targets for sourcing of unavailable goods, services, and skills, it will be a clear winner for the UAE.