Project analysis: Qatar signs QAR98 million deal with Kahramaa

Last month Hyder Consulting signed a contract with Qatar’s Kahramaa to design and construction supervision of the strategic water mega reservoirs project, valued at QAR98 million. The Big Project profiles the world’s largest network of clean water reservoirs, due for completion in three years

No strangers to record breaking projects, on March 27 chairman of Hyder Consulting, Sir Allan Thomas, signed a contract worth QAR98 million with Qatar General Electricity and Water Corporation, Kahramaa, to design and construct the world’s largest network of clean water reservoirs.

Upon completion of phase one, the project will have a total capacity of 2200 million imperial gallons – enough to support a population projected to reach 3.4 million by 2036.

A statement from Kahramaa describes the mission and objectives of the project as being to “keep pace with economic and urban development, investment in human capital, environmental protection and the preservation of national wealth for future generations.”

The mega reservoirs project will see Hyder design and supervise the construction of 31 concrete tanks, 200 metres in diameter and 12 metres deep, spread over five sites – referred to as ‘farms’. Each farm measures 1km² and the entire network will be connected by 200km of pipeline, measuring 2 metres in diameter.

“Each reservoir is at least twice the size of the largest ever reservoir built in the world,” said Neil Kemel after the signing ceremony, further commenting that the project is “is absolutely fundamental to the future of Qatar”.

Once designs have been finalised and tenders issues by the end of 2012, the phase one project timeline will last 24 months.

“If you start to work your way backwards and think about the amount of time to get the water to test one of these tanks, some of these criteria last a month and the water has to be moved to ground so you don’t use it again and again,” explains Kemel.

“When you think of the logistics of those relatively simple things, these tanks are going to have to be built very quickly,” he adds, describing both the construction and design phases as “intense”.


Design challenge

One of the most integral considerations in the project will be how to position the reservoir tanks. Kahramaa has already secured the land, however the in light of the desert climate, the depth at which the tanks will be built into the ground will dictate the amount of energy needed to cool and pump the water.

These complications will be solved by burying the tanks either in part or entirely, thus providing “thermal advantages”. Either option has potential to install solar panel “lids” in the future, to generate power.

“The focus for us will be the economic form; the balance between the founding levels and the top of the tank level and where the tanks are positioned creates huge differences in cost,” Kemel explains.

“If we have the tanks completely underground, the hydraulic uplift is potentially huge, so the cost goes up,” he adds.

Hyder has produced the first phase report analysing the form, construction, and optimum positioning of the tanks from an operational, security and economic perspective.

With a strong track record of hydraulic modelling on tanks of various configurations, Hyder’s utmost focus will be on the safety of the water, with chlorination of the water both prior to entering and immediately after leaving the tanks.

Sir Thomas describes the project as not only being essential to Qatar and the prominence of Hyder’s reputation, but also securing the clean water supply for Qatar. Once completed, the tanks will provide Qatar with the largest clean water capacity in the region, with a seven day supply.

In context he explains that Saudi Arabia and the Emirates have a two day supply, and Oman and Bahrain – the latter being a previous Hyder projected completed in the 1990s – even less.

“We have a long track record of this sort of work in this region, but this is the first time it is happening on this scale, anywhere in the world,” Kemel adds.


In their stride

Despite the scale and challenges that are being accounted for, the consultants and engineers deployed to the project are far from deterred.

“To me, this is a fairly simple project, it’s just a very very big project. The tanks, pipes, pumping stations, are all large, but there is nothing here that is alien to what we do,” asserts Kemel who describes various project elements as “simple” and “repeatable”.

“There degrees of repetition; every tanks is the same, the site we will keep as simple as we can,” he continues, adding this will also provide benefits during operation and maintenance.

“We do power plants and pumping stations elsewhere in the Middle East and while the tanks are of a scale that nobody has built to this size before, the actual techniques for design and construction are already proven and conservative,” he says.

The next step will be to showcase the technology developed on the Kahramaa project to other municipal bodies in the region, with a view to aligning the average storage capacity of GCC countries with international standards.

“Clearly the experience and expertise this project gives Hyder will be something of interest to other parties and will certainly enhance our credentials regionally,” says Kemel.

“I think that as this project moves through its last cycle, we will gain quite a lot of publicity and one of the reasons we want to talk to people now is that because within nine months we will have completed the designs, and within a year and half there will have been some substantial work achieved on site, so there will be some great interest in this project,” he concludes.


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