Fujairah plant set to power up Northern Emirates

Fujairah power and water plant enhances the emirate's importance as a strategic UAE energy hub.

A new power and water plant in Fujairah promises to turn the emirate into the UAE's northern hub for electricity and water production, at a time when its strategic importance is growing.
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QIDFA // A new power and water plant in Fujairah promises to turn the emirate into the UAE's northern hub for electricity and water production, at a time when its strategic importance is growing.

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Not all of the 2,000 megawatts of electricity and 130 million gallons a day of drinking water the Fujairah F2 facility can produce at peak capacity will be for local consumption.

"Through this power plant, we can send electricity to anywhere on the UAE national grid," said Abdullah al Naimi, the director general of Abu Dhabi Water and Electricity Authority (Adwea) and the chief executive of Abu Dhabi National Energy, or Taqa.

Adwea and its subsidiary Taqa hold 60 per cent of Fujairah Asia Power, the joint venture formed to own and operate the plant.

"We are committed to supply power in the Northern Emirates," said Mr al Naimi. Freshwater from the plant will be piped to storage facilities in Al Ain, from where it will be distributed to users in Abu Dhabi and other emirates.

Fujairah and its deepwater port on the Arabian Sea have emerged as an oil processing and export hub. A recently completed oil pipeline to Fujairah from Abu Dhabi's main onshore oilfields provides the means for up to half the emirate's crude output to bypass the Gulf and its choke point at the Strait of Hormuz.

In return, Adwea has undertaken to upgrade electricity supplies to Fujairah and the other Northern Emirates, which have suffered from power shortages that have held back their economic development.

At an inauguration ceremony yesterday in Qidfa, the US$2.8 billion (Dh10.28bn) integrated power and water project was hailed as the largest of its kind in the UAE and second largest in the world, and as a testament to national and international co-operation.

"Adwea believes in the importance of international partnership and the benefits these bring," Mr al Naimi said.

The project's other partners, each with a 20 per cent stake, are the Japanese industrial group Marubeni and the Anglo-French International Power-GDF Suez.

Steve Yarrington, the executive managing director of Fujairah Asia, said the "showcase plant" was completed in January, three years after work began at the Qidfa site.

"This plant has been built by the consortium very quickly, even by international standards, said Mark Coxon, an executive of Alstom, the French power and transport group.

Alstom provided the turbines at the heart of electricity generation units capable of delivering as much horse power as 3,000 Formula 1 Ferrari engines.

Hideo Naito, the head of Europe, Middle East and Africa finance at the Japan Bank of International Co-operation, which helped to finance the Fujairah F2 project, said the plant's inauguration was symbolic to all Japanese because it demonstrated that Japan's commitment to the international community had not been thrown off course by the earthquake and tsunami that hit the country on March 11.

Masume Kakinoke, the chief operating officer of Marubeni's power and infrastructure division, said the project's completion was a significant accomplishment for Japanese industry "during very, very hard times", providing a platform for "stronger, deeper, wider" relations with the UAE.

The Fujairah plant is fuelled by up to 60 million cubic feet per day of gas imported from Qatar through the Dolphin Energy pipeline system.

The Abu Dhabi consortium completed a trans-Emirates gas pipeline to Qidfa from its Gulf coast import terminal at Taweelah in December.

Officials declined to comment yesterday on whether an F3 power and water project was being planned. But if such a project were proposed, Fujairah Asia would be interested in building it, said Mr Yarrington.

It is unlikely that Dolphin will be able to guarantee a long-term gas supply for another large project in Fujairah, but the Qidfa site might lend itself to the development of a floating liquefied natural gas import terminal, such as those already built for Kuwait and Dubai.