High-voltage Ducab plant to begin test run soon

An artist's impression of the new high-voltage Ducab facility. (SUPPLIED)

Ducab's Dh500 million high-voltage plant will be completed in January next year and the firm is now studying two expansion opportunities outside the GCC.

Though the project will be completed next year, the plant will begin producing some cables by the end of 2010 for testing, a top official said.

Equipment will be installed in the third quarter of this year and testing will begin in the fourth quarter.

After the start-up, the plant will ramp up production to 30,000 tonnes over the next three years. "It is a relatively small start-up in the first few months, then we will be ramping up production," Jon Vail, CEO of Ducab High Voltage Cable Systems (Ducab HV), told Emirates Business.

The company, which is 50 per cent owned by Ducab and 25 per cent each by Dubai Electricity and Water Authority (Dewa) and the Abu Dhabi Electricity and Water Authority (Adwea), aims to meet the entire high-voltage requirements of the UAE.

Currently, most HV needs of the country are imported. Dewa, for example, has recently awarded the contracts to install, test and commission 132/11 substations to Switzerland's ABB, France's Areva and Saudi's Riyadh Cables, while the 400/132 substation deal went to Germany's Siemens.

"The products that Ducab has now are in low and medium voltage. In this product range, we supply 50 per cent of the UAE requirements. Our target is to supply all the high-voltage needs of the UAE," Vail said.

The UAE cable demand is about 180,000 copper tonnes per year. Cable demand across the GCC is about 770,000 tonnes per year. Meanwhile, Ducab HV will concentrate on getting commercial orders in the second half of this year for delivery next year.

"In our start-up, we will concentrate on 66kV and 132kv [cables] and then will also start to produce and test 400kV cables, where the test cycle could take at least one-and-a-half years," said the CEO.

Ducab HV will sell cable systems in the voltage range of 66kV to 400kV, covering the highest voltage currently used in the GCC and operating as the first dedicated high-voltage facility in the region. Once fully operational, the company plans to sell more than Dh1 billion worth of cable and associated services annually, approximately 60 per cent of which will be consumed in the UAE. The rest will be exported to GCC and nearby Asian and North African regions.

The company has also laid the foundation of its Dh250m cable manufacturing plant with a capacity of producing 25,000 tonnes of cables per year, a spokesperson said, declining to give details on the commissioning date. Ducab is currently reviewing two expansion opportunities, and is also looking at regions outside the GCC. The firm is already the largest supplier of imported cables to India.

"We always think ahead with a positive mind," Ahmed Al Shaikh, Ducab chairman, told Emirates Business. "Expansion studies are going on, but have not yet been approved by the board," he said.


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