The cable guys

One of the highest population growth rates in the world means that the demand for electricity in the UAE is set to soar for a number of years to come. This is good news for the suppliers and manufacturers of the cabling that is the backbone of this vital infrastructure.

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By  Colin Foreman Published  December 25, 2004

The cable guys|~|cable_m.jpg|~|L-R: Saeed Majid Al Shamsi from Fewa, and Farid Mohammed Ahmed and Waleed Al Hosani from Ducab|~|The total population of the UAE topped 4 million at the end of last year, meaning it grew by 7.6% in 2003 compared with 2002. These statistics make the UAE the fastest growing country in the Arab world, and one of the fastest in the world. On an emirate by emirate basis, the populations now measure: 1.591 million in Abu Dhabi, 1.204 million in Dubai, 636 000 in Sharjah, 235 000 in Ajman, 195 000 in Ras Al Khaimah, 118 000 in Fujairah and 62 000 in Umm Al Qawain. Such rapid growth obviously puts tremendous strain on the nation’s infrastructure. Roads are probably the best example. With 200 new cars hitting the roads each day, many major routes, most notably the roads between Dubai and Sharjah, now experience endemic congestion problems on a daily basis. Another key service that is put under immense pressure is the electricity supply. New housing developments encroaching into the desert, such as the Green Community and Arabian Ranches have meant that the grid itself has to expand in terms of geographical coverage, but it also has to increase the capacity carried within built up areas as new buildings spring up on vacant plots of land. Recognising this, the various electricity suppliers are installing new networks and enhancing old ones to meet this rapidly increasing demand. For example, the UAE Federal Electricity and Water Authority (Fewa) will expand its 33 kV power network next year in the northern emirates where major infrastructure and related construction works are taking place. Projects like this are crucial to the cable industry because it supplies the cabling for this work. For this particular expansion, Dubai Cable Company (Ducab) will provide Fewa with a cable upgrade that will enhance existing power distribution on the network, and will allow the grid to cope with the greater load demands caused by the various developments underway in Fujairah and Ras Al Khaimah. This was awarded as an annual supply contract worth AED 36 million that calls for the supply of 33 kV single core cables. Farid Mohammed Ahmed, Ducab general manager for sales and marketing, said that the contract calls for the supply of 450 km of single core copper, 500 mm² cables in 2005. “The high value supply contract with the country’s premier utilities maintenance and distribution authority is proof of the quality endorsement our products have benefited from during the execution of our last year’s annual contract with Fewa,” said Ahmed. “This order from Fewa has demonstrated our capability to manufacture and supply cables that enhance performance and result in the longer life cycle of our products.” The upgrade design of the copper cables are attributed with outstanding longitudinal and radial water blocking features to Fewa’s 33 kV grid in Ajman, Fujairah, Ras Al Khaimah and Umm Al Quwain. “We look forward to the prospect of working with Ducab on this extremely important project in the northern emirates,” said Saeed Majid Al Shamsi, Fewa general manager. “With Ducab’s impeccable track record of providing excellent services to its clients, we are sure that they will meet our expectations and requirements.” Earlier in the year Ducab was awarded the cable system contract for Dubai Electricity & Water Authority’s (Dewa) new 750 MW ‘L’ power station in Jebel Ali. Dewa awarded the power and desalination station package to a consortium led by Mitsubishi Corporation along with Toshiba Corporation, Fisia Italimpianti SpA, Areva Alsthom and ETA Group as partners. The engineering consultant for this project is the world reputed Lahmeyer International GmbH of Germany. Ducab will design, manufacture and supply all cable systems for the new power station and desalination plant. Ducab has been the trusted choice of Dewa’s power and desalination plant projects, from Station “E” in 1995 to Station “K” in 2002, and has successfully fulfilled the cable systems contract fully to the specifications laid by the client’s engineers. Colin Paskins, managing director, Ducab said: “Ducab’s relationship with Dewa is built upon the company’s ability to deliver high quality products in a timely manner. The successful completion of the projects in the past for Dewa positioned Ducab as a strong contender for the project. The project did offer fresh challenges though, since an innovative cable system needed to be designed specifically for this project, Ducab met this challenge well by meeting the high standards of cable performance specification.” Toshiba Corp, the power plant contractor, decided in favour of Ducab after a diligent four month long evaluation process, during which Ducab had to undergo a stringent quality evaluation process to qualify for the project, and against stiff competition from Japanese and South Korean manufacturers. The company’s advanced E-Next system, which permits customers to track the deliver status of their orders was an important factor. In addition to the power cables, Ducab is also supplying cables for the desalination plant being built by Fisia Italimpianti SpA. “Meeting the cable design standards for this project was not an easy task. Ducab took the challenge of actually developing a prototype and demonstrated the integrity of the cable design and performance under fire conditions,” explained Deb Mazumdar, Ducab sales manager (power utilities). Cable systems are a crucial part of a power station’s design package. “For a reliable cable system, cable manufacturers have to stress on the durability of the cables in all kinds of extreme conditions, including exposure to fire and in preventing water penetration. On the other hand, to ensure the continued functionality of a power station into the future, cable systems must incorporate highest quality standards in cable material and manufacturing capability,” said Toru Abe, chief of power plant design group, under Toshiba Plant Systems & Services Corporation. Contracts like these with the various power authorities around the region are the mainstay of cable companies who regard them as their main customers. Some major contractors working on behalf of power authorities do buy significant quantities, as do contractors working on major projects with massive power requirements like Dubai’s airport expansion and Mall of the Emirates. With no signs of the population growth in the region slowing down it is likely that extra electricity capacity will be needed. This combined with the extraordinary number of developments currently in the preliminary stages of construction it looks like cable companies have a busy few years ahead.||**||

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