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Power game

ABB's Mohammed Samkari discusses his firm's Saudi project portfolio

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ABB's Mohammed Samkari discusses his firm's Saudi project portfolio
ABB's Mohammed Samkari discusses his firm's Saudi project portfolio

ABB’s president and local business unit manager for substations in Saudi Arabia, Mohammed Samkari, talks about his firm’s latest projects.

What work have you carried out on the GCC interconnection grid?
We’ve built six main substations for the GCC grid – three in Saudi Arabia, and one each in Kuwait, Bahrain and Qatar. We are also the electrical package supplier for the seven substations at Shuwaihat in the United Arab Emirates.

How will trading on the interconnection grid work?
The peak demand period for all GCC countries occurs at around the same time. But the plan is to connect Saudi Arabia with Egypt and then eventually with Europe.

It’s at that stage that we will start to benefit from the time difference and the change in peak demand. The idea here is to reduce the spinning reserve of each country and increase the stability of the grid, so each country can view the spinning reserve of other countries as being available to them.

The trade in power will be calculated so that half of the capacity of the largest generating plant in each country will become available to its neighbours.

How has ABB assisted with the construction of the Kingdom’s railway projects?
Our role for the railway has two parts. The first part is the main power supply to the electrical railway.

For the Haramain link, this will be through six 380kV substations – the locations of which have already been defined by SEC, and which will be financed by the railway authority.

The other part is the traction system - one of our competencies - which will be 25kV. So we’re working on two projects simultaneously which requires expert coordination.

Can you provide some details about your latest contract win?
We’ve just won the power supply contract to the prestigious Princess Nourah Bint Abdulrahman University on the outskirts of Riyadh. This US$120 million deal consists of one 380kV substation, two 132kV substations and expansion work at an existing substation. The delivery period is 20 months, so it’s a rush project, but we’re very excited about this prestigious deal.

How do you see the utilities market in KSA developing in the future?
We are expecting that the boom of 2007-8 will be repeated in Saudi Arabia. The Kingdom is an emerging market with a lot of demand and plenty of opportunity not only in new installations but in upgrading and increasing efficiency and availability in existing plants.

How are your relationships with other Saudi utilities?
In Yanbu and Jubail, we have a lot of existing installations and we have excellent relationships with those utilities as well.

We have also won a package from Sepco 3 for power transmission substations. For SWCC, normally we participate via large EPC contracts as a supplier or as a partner. We are already working with Ma’aden, and we’re looking forward to contributing to the Ras Al Zour EPC project.

On the distribution side, a lot our products are locally manufactured. Outside of KSA, in the rest of the GCC, we also enjoy excellent relations with our suppliers.

We have the largest manufacturing facility in the region for transformers, switchgears, and automation systems. For example all the switchgears and panels in Burj Dubai are made by ABB.

Will Saudi Arabia win the battle to keep up with demand in the long run?
Absolutely. ABB is a long-term player and we’re constantly working to be ahead of the market to achieve success.

The power sector is vital to this country, and whatever investment there may be in terms of infrastructure and investment, if there is no power supply for those projects then it’s a waste of time.

But it’s not just about winning the big contracts; we are active when it comes to providing services related to our solutions portfolio. We are planning to sign some large service contracts with industrial clients and we are also active with regard to system efficiencies and improvement.

There is no project that is too big or too small and we are here to fulfil the requirements of all our customers.

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