No more sand left for future island building

Plan to use sand from Arabian Canal on Waterfront as solution if offshore reserves run out

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By  Sean Cronin Published  September 30, 2006

A decade of dredging and artificial island-making will have removed almost all of the sand from the territorial waters of Dubai by the time Dubai Waterfront completes in 2011. By that point, around 1.9 billion m3 of sand will have been removed from the seabed between the shoreline of the emirate and the start of international waters. Dredging contractors Van Oord and Jan De Nul have both conducted seabed surveys that show it will not be possible to build any more artificial islands beyond those already completed or underway, without shipping in sand from neighbouring emirates. Construction Week has also learned that a back-up plan has been put in place to use excavated sand from the planned Arabian Canal to finish the Waterfront project if there is not enough left in Dubai’s territorial waters after 10 years of artificial island-building – or if it becomes uneconomical to travel the required distances to dredge it from the sea bed. “We have done a lot of testing and we wouldn’t enter into a contract if there were doubts about the sufficiency of the sand, but it is correct that if tomorrow someone were to announce another project with another three or four hundred million cubic metres, it would not be possible because of the lack of sand,” said Filip Morobe, area manager, Jan De Nul, the Belgian company responsible for the reclamation of Dubai Waterfront. Like its rival Jan De Nul, Dutch contractor Van Oord has also carried out extensive surveys to estimate the available sand off the coast of Dubai. It was awarded the US $2.9 billion (AED10.6 billion) contract to build Palm Deira in November 2005. Both firms competed for the $200 million Dubai Waterfront contract, which was eventually awarded to Jan De Nul. Interviewed by CW earlier this year, Van Oord regional director Jan Schaart, confirmed that the company had completed thousands of offshore boreholes between the borders of Abu Dhabi and Sharjah and was confident that there was enough sand to complete the Palm Deira project. But he could not say definitively if there would be enough left to finish the Dubai Waterfront project. He said: “We have done a huge investigation into the availability of sand so we know what is there and what we can use. We are confident there is enough sand, excluding Dubai Waterfront. That is the next chapter.” While Jan De Nul maintains that there are sufficient sand reserves offshore to complete the reclamation of Dubai Waterfront, there is a clause within the company’s contract, which allows it to use onshore sand excavated from the yet-to-be-built Arabian Canal, if it is required. “That is indeed an option we have incorporated into our contract. We still believe that there is just enough sand without using those resources, but it might be more economical to introduce part of the excavations of the Arabian Canal into the Waterfront,” said Morobe. In a statement, Dubai Waterfront, said: “There are plans to use the excavated material from the Arabian Canal for best levelling and grading of the project, as building a city like Dubai Waterfront onshore and offshore needs a lot of material.” (see page five)

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