Qatar’s transmission expansion plan is of vital importance for the Middle East. MEE looks at the work of Prysmian, awarded a €168 million contract by Qatar General Electricity and Water Corporation programme to supply a power transmission system totalling 161 km of high-voltage cables.

From the early telegraph cables of the late 18th Century to the development of enhanced impact resistant and fire performance offshore cables of today, Prysmian Cables and Systems has been supplying a full range of cables worldwide.

Prysmian’s high voltage laboratory at the submarine cable headquarters, Milan
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Today, Prysmian is a major supplier to the world’s electricity industry, including products to work in greater extremes of climate, pressures and distances, with increased levels of reliability. The Middle East region is a strategic area of expansion for Prysmian.

The Italian company, sold by Pirelli to Goldman Sachs in 2005, has premises in Dubai (DAFZA) and Kuwait, plus a number of project offices in Abu Dhabi, Doha, Manama (Bahrain) and Kuwait. These offices cover the whole sales and marketing activity, power transmission systems design, project management, subcontracts tender activity, installation and financial control.

The €168 million ($216 million) contract secured in January 2008 by a Prysmian led consortium for the construction of a high voltage underground cable system, further confirms the strategic role Prysmian is playing in Qatar and the whole of the Middle East, working as a major utilities partner for the current power transmission network expansion program of each country.

Qatar, situated on the Arabic Gulf, with its abundant petroleum and natural gas reserves, posts double-digit growth rates and invests continuously in its own development. The major power transmission system expansion plan (incorporating the GCC interconnection project) currently being carried out by the Qatar General Electricity & Water Corporation (Kahramaa) demonstrates just one of the ways that the country is constantly improving its infrastructure.

On completion of this project to reinforce the main transmission networks and secure the power supply to the industrial and domestic sectors, an entire new commercial and residential area in Doha will be powered through this interconnection.

Prysmian was chosen to participate in Phase VIII of Qatar’s power transmission system expansion, as it was recognized by Kahramaa as a highly experienced and leading Company, with the ability to meet the challenging requirements of power transmission mega projects. This was due to its perceived capabilities in engineering, power systems design, supply capacity, quality and installation skills.

The aim of Phase VIII is to further develop Qatar’s high voltage network in order to bring power to the major industrial and commercial areas of Qatar industrial areas such as Ras Laffan. Phase VIII consists of 18 different packages. In January 2008, Prysmian was awarded two areas: one near Doha International airport, in effect a refurbishment of the old network, and the other is a new residential area, West Bay, on the opposite side of the city.

The project will take approximately two years from the award of the contract. For Phase VIII, Prysmian was in consortium with French cable manufacturer Nexans on a 50 per cent of scope basis. Under the terms of the deal, circuits are divided up equally, so for any circuit if, say, three cables are supplied by Nexans, Prysmian must also supply three.

Prysmian’s Arco Felice submarine cable factory, Naples
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The high voltage cables are manufactured in France and the Netherlands in Prysmian’s approved factories. Unusually, Kahramaa itself designs the specification of the cables for their power projects and insist that the turnkey suppliers manufacture cables exactly to their power transmission specifications, rather than the other way round.

Giovanni Caradonna, Prysmian’s Middle East General Manager, said: “This way, Kahramaa knows exactly what they have underground, so if there is any damage and have to conduct repairs to the network, they know exactly how to do it themselves rather than leaving it to the supplier.”

As a result of the strong technical and commercial focus Prysmian has demonstrated during Phase VIII of the power transmission system expansion, it was awarded in August 2008 another contract worth €140 million by Kahramaa for the development of the first ever submarine cable turnkey project serving Doha.

The Corniche, Doha
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This project is an extremely important part of the development of the Qatar power transmission network, linking two substations, which are located on opposite sides of the city of Doha. This entails connecting a 220 kV substation near the Marriott Hotel with another 220 kV substation at a new housing development called West Bay.

The application of the standard underground technology, through the shortest land route possible, which is the Cornice Road itself, would have meant heavy traffic deviation and severe difficulties for the Doha people on several sectors of the Cornice Road for the entire execution time of the cable installation work.

However, the two substations are at opposite sides of the bay, meaning that the shortest route is via the seabed. As the land here is reclaimed from the sea, laying a cable is very problematic. Furthermore this project requires the opening trenches in reclaimed land in the famous Doha Corniche beauty spot, one of the busiest areas of the capital.

For this project, Prysmian will provide cables, detailed design, system and installation engineering according to the Kahramaa project specification. Furthermore, the submarine cable installation, which shall require the protection of the cable from external damages for the entirety of the route, will be performed together with the application of the most advanced and referenced cable protection technologies, corresponding to the different nature of the sea bed soil. Inspections and testing during manufacturing, installation and commissioning, is a key activity for the successful and complete execution of the project.

Through this method, an important and delicate sector of the network within the capital city, will be installed with minimal impact on both the traffic of Cornice Road and the ongoing construction development. The most challenging part of the project to date has been the high level of confidence required in the technology of the submarine cables, which have never been applied in Qatar before for extra high voltage power transmission projects.

However, Prysmian has vast experience in laying submarine cables. The company is laying a cable at a depth of 1000 metres for an Italy–Greece connection and is currently executing a link between Italy and Sardinia at a depth of 1600 metres. In comparison, the Doha Bay project is only a relatively shallow 15 metres.

The installation in the marine environment will require specific route surveys, a cable installation vessel and tailor-made barge rigging for shallow water cable installation. For this project Prysmian will supply a total of 63km of submarine and underground 220KV power cable and related accessories.

The project will be fully supported by a dedicated Qatar Project Management team, located at the submarine cable Headquarters in Milan, Italy, and the submarine cable plant located in Arco Felice, Naples, Italy, throughout the various phases of the project execution. The installation is expected to start in the second quarter 2009 and is due to be completed by the end of 2010.

Caradonna says that this contract represents a successful commercial operation, for Prysmian achieved through a strong focus on the customers’ needs and a selective attitude towards the high technological and most challenging projects in the market, perfectly supported by Prysmian’s wide range of products and a widespread presence across the Middle East region. Both the Phase VIII and Doha Bay developments – two different projects within the same Kahramaa power transmission system expansion plan – reflect Prysmian’s growing experience in the Middle East and their commitment to developing improved infrastructure in the region. MEE

By Tim Probert, Deputy Editor