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Adam Lane talks with Dr Mazen Bachir about Passavant Roediger’s extensive activity in the region’s water and wastewater sector
With regional projects that include Qatar, the UAE, Saudi Arabia, Palestine, Jordan and Lebanon, Mazen Bachir’s assessment of Passavant Roediger’s “decent spread” of Middle East work could be seen as impressively modest. The firm – headquartered in Germany – was fully acquired by Drake & Scull in 2010, and has been exceptionally busy across the wider Middle East ever since.
“With the exception of our on-site presence in Fujairah - during the construction of the wastewater treatment plant there - pre-2010, from a sales point of view, we were not physically or proactively present in the region, and worked rather reactively.
Since the acquisition by Drake & Scull, we gained a much better understanding of the region through them, and through our own presence. We had exposure to more and more projects, and we intend to build on this by enhancing our presence further,” Bachir explains.
The firm, which Dr Bachir leads as managing director, was founded in Germany way back in 1842 and now focuses on design and build, and operation and maintenance services in water, wastewater, sludge and waste treatment systems. With such long experience in the industry, the range of offerings is unsurprisingly extensive.
“On water treatment we have a range of in-house solutions, including our Tubo LME system, a high-rate compact filtration treatment process. By compact, I don’t necessarily mean packaged plants, but that the solution itself is compact compared to conventional technologies on the market. So whenever there is space restriction, or a high quality of water needed, this technology lends itself really well.
“We are also an EPC contractor in our own right, and through our understanding of the technology, we are able to applyvirtually any treatment process that is required – ranging from seawater desalination to water required for industry, and anything in between, tailor-made to provide cost-effective solutions to our clients,” he explains.
Bachir says that Passavant’s key business principle effectively kick-starts every project with an encompassing understanding of what the client wants and tailoring the treatment process accordingly. In this way, he believes, his firm can essentially treat any wastewater or water that comes in, to any quality level that is required.
“In our wastewater business, we can look at it from two different aspects. There is the municipal side – which is traditional sewage – where we again look at the end user applications and the quality of the sewage coming in, and we design the plant accordingly. This ranges from simple plants for single stage treatment, up to plants with tertiary treatment stages and re-use applications.”
On the industrial wastewater side, Passavant has seen the regional growth in regulations about industrial discharge as a key driver of interest in its range of industrial treatment services.
Industrial applications can range around applications such as power plants or nuclear facilities, and Dr Bachir says that customers are increasingly seeing the benefit of treating water to a standard where it can be reused.
“We have been trying to show customers that you could approach the treatment requirements from two angles. The first is when you treat waste and that’s it; you still have to buy water from outside for your processes.
Or you can spend a little more – and normally it makes sense to do this because you already spend a lot on treatment – and get the water to a quality where you can reuse it. And this, of course, lowers your operating costs,” he explains.
The firm’s other key business area is its sludge and waste services, which were recently in the news after the firm’s mega-project award in Iraq. This will see it work on a US $23.4 million project to build a wastewater treatment plant in Kerbala – constructing a sludge treatment system based on anaerobic sludge digestion. This, Dr Bachir says, is an area where even competitors would not argue that the firm is number one.
“The Iraq project focuses on one of the byproducts of wastewater treatment, which is sludge. This is a global issue. What we traditionally did with sludge was to partially render it harmless and use it in landfill in remote areas.
This trend cannot continue indefinitely, because eventually you run out of land, and it is also not as harmless as you’d like because often the plants don’t operate properly.”
“With anaerobic sludge digestion treatment, we also recover energy, which is part of the green energy concept. During the process, there is a particular bio gas released which is captured and then run through special combined heat and power engines to convert this energy into electricity or heat.”
Passavant can provide the sludge treatment as a turnkey solution or, as in the Kerbala plant, as an additional add-on. In addition, it can also be applied to waste applications – something that Bachir suggests makes his firm something of a trailblazer in the Middle East.
“People talk today about the concept of waste to energy. We actually brought this to the region ten years ago, with the first plant of its kind in the region. The project was unfortunately put on hold due to the political situation, but we are currently in the process of starting it up today.
“We can sort out inorganics – wood, metal, glass – things that we can’t use, then recover the energy. The plant is fully sustainable and doesn’t require any additional energy to run. In fact it creates more energy than it needs. It’s also a zero liquid discharge plant so all the water that’s generated is treated and used on-site. The end product is fertiliser for agricultural purposes,” he explains.
The plant in Lebanon is designed to treat 300 tonnes of waste per day, expandable to 450 tonnes, and Bachir says that it is the only one of its kind.
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