Electrification of Hawar Island
Mark Mooney – Resident Engineer, Hawar Island Submarine Cable Project
As I reach the close of my second year working in the ESB International Bahrain Office, I have become well accustomed to life in Bahrain and am thoroughly enjoying the constantly varying experiences, challenges and fast paced working environment. I have high hopes that it is only the beginning of a fruitful and enjoyable career in the Gulf, with ambitions to continue to support business continuity and growth of the long-standing service that ESB International has provided to our clients across the Middle East over the last 44 years.
Moving abroad is not everyone’s cup of tea, however those that do quickly realise the importance of being associated with a reputable company with good ethical and moral values. I have witnessed firsthand how ESB International truly has its employees’ best interests at heart. The health, safety, and wellbeing of all its employees are at the forefront of everything that ESB International stands for. This has been particularly visible over recent months during the COVID-19 Pandemic.
Important aspects of a life working abroad are the new friends and the adopted family you meet. My time outside working hours is generally spent among gatherings within the Irish community and the local GAA Club ‘The Arabian Celts’. ESB International has provided continued support to these over the years, contributing to their longevity and success.
As ESB International embarks on the highly profiled Hawar Island Submarine Cable Project, a project which long term Client, Electricity and Water Authority (EWA), has classified as a ‘project of extreme importance’ and ‘a historical event’, I feel very fortunate to be assigned the role of Resident Engineer for this prestigious venture.
The project will utilise cutting edge subsea cable laying engineering and technology. It officially kicked off in July 2020 and I intend to run a blog throughout its lifecycle. The blog will discuss key milestones, activities, project successes and difficulties as well as everything in between.
Hawar Island is the largest protected area in Bahrain and is situated approximately 10 nautical miles from mainland Bahrain. Although an independent island, Hawar is administered as part of the Southern Governorate of Bahrain.
The Government of the Kingdom of Bahrain has ambitious plans to develop the island over the coming years into a world-class eco-tourism destination. A key aspect of the project is to conserve the land and marine wildlife and its natural biodiversity with the aim of increasing tourism revenue and benefiting from the associated job creation.
Two fundamental prerequisites for the successful development of the island are the provision of stable and reliable supplies of potable water and electricity. Currently, electric power is generated on the island by a diesel generator, which would be inadequate to support the proposed development, in line with Bahrain’s National Economic Strategy for 2030.
In order to upgrade the existing electrical supply and to improve the reliability of the supply to the island in the most sustainable and environmentally friendly way, power will be provided by a network of three 66 kV submarine power cables spanning approximately 25km from shoreline to shoreline.
Electrical supply on the island will be facilitated by the construction of a substation, from which distribution to various locations will be possible. On the mainland, the existing Durrat Al Bahrain 66 kV substation is to be upgraded to improve the reliability of the supply infrastructure. The project will be funded by Saudi Fund for Development.
Following a tendering process, ESB International was appointed as Engineering consultant for the project building on the long standing and trusting relationship we have built over many years with our valued client EWA. We will bring our track record of efficient delivery on many high profile projects and can also utilise the capability of our parent company, especially leveraging our existing inhouse submarine cable know-how and expertise.
Not only is the Hawar Island Submarine Cable project a sizeable project that highlights ESB International’s ability to manage a comprehensive work scope, but it also demonstrates our ability to evolve alongside our long-time client, EWA.
ESB Core Values
With parent company ESB having launched its Brighter Future Strategy to 2030, the Hawar Island Submarine Cable project is perfectly aligned as a major project where we can contribute to further economic and social progress in the region, providing a platform where we can deliver upon our core values of being Courageous, Caring, Driven and Trusted.
Project engineering and feasibility studies commenced immediately upon contract award and were initially managed through our Head Office in Dublin. In order to determine the most viable route for the cables over their operational life and in light of the sensitive environmental receptors in the area, a detailed feasibility study was undertaken prior to the commencement of the Environmental Impact Assessment. The study used existing data and satellite derived imagery to determine the baseline environment at a high level within the project area.
From this information, three potential cable routes were suggested that minimised impact of sensitive environmental sites, future reclamation developments and borrow areas as well as focusing on sand and deep-water habitats. Furthermore, the route was required to avoid the Roads and Planning Design Directorate’s (RPDD) future proposed road to Hawar, as well as a navigational channel for sea traffic.
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