In Islam, Barakah means divine blessing. Recently, a ceremony marking the commencement of operations of Unit 3 at the Barakah nuclear power plant, one of the greatest achievements of Korean nuclear exports, was held in Barakah, 270km from Abu Dhabi, the capital of the United Arab Emirates (UAE). To commemorate this day, the UAE held a grand event, inviting the heads of state and ministers of both nations as well as some 100 business leaders from Korea. The Barakah nuclear power plant, currently under construction by ‘Team Korea’ led by Hyundai E&C, is drawing the UAE’s national attention to the extent that its image appeared on the country’s new highest-value bill of 1,000 dirhams. What is the strength of K-Construction, which is credited for transforming a dry barren desert of Barakah into a ‘land of blessing’? You may find the answer, if you follow the footsteps of Hyundai E&C which stands at the heart of it all.
[ Khalifa Port Hinterland ]
The United Arab Emirates (UAE) is located on the northeastern coast of the Arabian Peninsula. Bordering Saudi Arabia and Oman, the UAE is a federation of seven emirates, including Abu Dhabi, Dubai, Sharjah and Ajman, etc. The main industries vary slightly from emirate to emirate, but the construction sector stands out among all sectors, accounting for 10% of the UAE’s GDP*. Ever since the establishment of the UAE-Korea diplomatic relations in 1980, many Korean construction companies have actively entered the UAE markets, continuously contributing to the strong ties between both countries. Hyundai E&C first entered the UAE market in 1978, prior to diplomatic ties, and ever since, has successfully carried out a total of 50 projects in the region. Ranging from technology-intensive industrial facilities to several infrastructure construction projects, Hyundai E&C is proud to showcase the milestone projects that it has implemented to date.
*Source: Fitch Solutions
UAE Emerges as Hub of Middle East, Driving Infrastructure Development
Since entering the UAE market for the first time in 1978 with ‘Dubai Power Plant’, Hyundai E&C has led numerous projects beginning with ‘Abu Dhabi Wastewater Treatment Facility Construction (1978)’. The project was a civil engineering project to install a 24km-long wastewater pipeline in Abu Dhabi, the capital of the UAE. Ever since, Hyundai E&C has built trust in the country by participating various civil works projects such as ‘Ruwais Oil Refinery Drainage Construction (1979)’ and ‘Al Ain International Airport Construction (1986)’.
In the beginning of the 2000s, Hyundai E&C selected UAE as a strategic partner and intensively targeted the country to win its orders. As a result, in 2005, Hyundai E&C was awarded ‘Phase I Quay Wall Construction of Jebel Ali Container Terminal’ project to build a concrete block-type quay wall with a total length of 2,602m near the eastern breakwater of Jebel Ali Port. At that time, Hyundai E&C also won the follow-up project of ‘Phase I Hinterland Development and Ancillary Facility Construction of Jebel Ali Container Terminal’. As the regional economy was being revitalized due to soaring oil prices, these two projects were aimed at handling the increasing volume of logistics in Dubai, the gateway to the Middle East, serving as an opportunity for Hyundai E&C to consolidate its position in the region.
The successful implementation of the Jebel Ali projects led to bagging subsequent orders like the 2007 ‘Khalifa Port Dredging, Reclamation and Breakwater Construction’ and the 2010 ‘Khalifa Port Maritime Terminal Construction’. The Khalifa projects became fully operational following the Abu Dhabi government’s plan to develop the Khalifa City as a new town and its port as an industrial zone. At first, there were some suspicious towards this small country from the East, however, by the time the construction entered the mid-phase, not only the client, the Abu Dhabi’s state-run port authority, but also several partners greatly appreciated Hyundai E&C’s technology and construction capability, saying, “If it’s Hyundai, it’s different.” Today, Jebel Ali and Khalifa ports are major ports in the UAE, handling tens of millions of TEUs annually and serving as the Middle East’s gateway in shipping and logistics.
[ 400kV Transmission Line Construction ]
Power Grids Embroider the Desert, Revitalizing Cities
In the UAE, of land is covered with vast deserts, it is essential to build power grids that serve as the backbone of its industry’s infrastructure. It is because, as a city is developed, so does its demand for electricity. Ever since undertaking the power business in 1986 with ‘Jebel Ali-Dubai 132kV Transmission Line Construction’, Hyundai E&C has successfully carried out projects such as '132/33kV GIS Substation Construction (1997)' and 'Abu Dhabi and Al Ain Power Grid Expansion Construction (1998)', followed by the construction of transmission lines connecting the desert and the city center and substations critical for power supply.
Entering the 2000s, with the rapid economic growth and population expansion, power consumption in the UAE drastically increased. In line with the trend, Hyundai E&C successfully implemented construction projects of max-voltage 400kV substation including '400㎸ Transmission Line', 'Jebel Ali M Substation', and 'Ruwais Substation', integrating the power grids of Abu Dhabi, Dubai, Sharjah, and Fujairah to optimize power supply.
In particular, the ‘Abu Dhabi 132/11kV Substation’ project which Hyundai E&C won in 2007 was a construction project to build two extra-high voltage substations on Saadiyat Island, which was designated as a special tourist zone at the time. The purpose of the project was to build an infrastructure that adequately converts the size of the voltage in order to efficiently supply the electricity generated by the power plant to users. Hyundai E&C successfully completed the project, satisfying both the UAE, known for its stringent construction regulations, and the client, Transco, known for adopting only cutting-edge technologies. The experience gained at this site has been a great asset for Hyundai E&C to implement other projects in the UAE, including the Barakah nuclear power plant.
[ Habshan-5 Utilities & Offsite Facilities in Abu Dhabi, UAE ]
Hyundai E&C at the Heart of Energy Value Chain
The UAE is a major oil producing country that has created added value based on its abundant energy resources such as crude oil and natural gas. Starting with 'Dubai Power Plant (1978)', Hyundai E&C has contributed to the UAE’s economic development through numerous projects including 'Ruwais Hydrocracker Complex (1984)', ‘Repowering of Jebel Ali Power and Desalination D Phase II (1999)', and ‘Jebel Ali Power Desalination Plant (2005)’ projects. Among them, the 'Hapshan-5 Gas Plant in Abu Dhabi (2009)' project with a construction cost of $ 1.7 billion was the largest of its kind in the UAE, capable of purifying 2.15 billion standard cubic feet (2150MMSCFD) of gas, equivalent to the daily consumption of Seoul citizens. Hyundai E&C consolidated its position in the gas plant sector by once gain winning and successfully carrying out this project alone. Built on the success, it successively bagged orders of ‘Borouge 3 Expansion Project (2010)' and ‘Borouge 3 XLPE (2011)'. These two projects involved constructing the world's largest polymer plant and top-class XLPE (Cross-Linked Polyethylene) production facility in the Ruwais Industrial Complex. Hyundai E&C also became prominent in the field of technology-intensive industrial facilities with the successful completion of the mega project.
Other notable projects include the ‘Sarb Offshore Crude Oil and Gas Processing Project (2013)’ and the ‘Mirfa Independent Water and Combined Cycle Power Plant Project (2014)’. The Sarb offshore crude oil and gas processing project was Hyundai E&C's first offshore project and a major national project of Abu Dhabi. It was highly evaluated for bringing innovation to the construction site by applying the modular construction method for the first time in plant construction. In addition, the Mirfa independent water and combined cycle power plant project (2014), is a project to build a total of 1,600 MW thermal power plant and desalination facility with a daily capacity of converting 238,000 tons of Gulf seawater into drinking water. As of today, this plant supplies 10% of electricity and drinking water of Abu Dhabi. The project aimed at constructing the thermal power plant and a desalination facility at the same time and was significant in presenting a new power generation model in the Middle East.
Going Beyond Desert into the World
Today, in the UAE, Hyundai E&C is boasting its abundant track record and technological prowess it gained over many years competing with other leading global players. Today, the UAE is the first Organization of Petroleum Exporting Countries (OPEC) member to officially commit to achieving net zero by 2050 and seek transformation to that end. It has announced its plan to invest 600 billion dirhams (approximately 207 trillion won) in stages to transform its energy structure centered on oil refining and chemicals to renewable energy such as hydrogen, photovoltaic and wind power. For this reason, many countries in search of future growth engines, now have their eyes keen on the UAE. Korea is no exception. Korea and the UAE recently held a summit meeting and promised to strengthen strategic cooperation in four key areas: △conventional energy and clean energy, △ peaceful nuclear energy, etc. In particular, it is quite natural Korean construction companies are gaining more attention, as they have demonstrated amazing results by carrying out nuclear power plant construction as ‘Team Korea’. Hyundai E&C, which is at the heart of such efforts, will also build on its unique competitiveness and leap forward to thrive in the global markets, going beyond the UAE.
※ Indication of Year: Order Basis
[ ‘Barakah nuclear power plant’ features even in UAE currency ]
If you drive for about 3 hours west of Abu Dhabi, the capital of the UAE, you will see four magnificent concrete buildings, rising tall in the middle of the endless desert. It is the Barakah nuclear power plant, the first nuclear power plant exported by Korea, In 2009, a consortium composed of Hyundai E&C, Korea Electric Power Corporation, and Korea Hydro & Nuclear Power was awarded the mega-scale nuclear power plant construction project worth US$ 20 billion, after winning a fierce competition against France, the United States, and Japan. This project put Korea in the ranks of the world's fifth nuclear power technology exporter and sixth nuclear power plant exporter. 8 km wide and 1.8 km long, the Barakah nuclear power plant is four times the size of Yeouido, and the upper dome of the reactor building, reminiscent of a mosque, exceeds 80 meters in height, similar to that of a 30-story apartment building. Currently, units 1 and 2 are in commercial operation, and unit 3 is ready for operation with fuel loading complete. If all units, including unit 4 slated for completion in the future, become fully operational, they can supply up to 25% of the UAE's total electricity demand.
[ The world’s tallest and largest observation wheel ‘Ain Dubai’ ]
In October 2021, a new landmark made its appearance in Dubai’s vibrant destination of 'Blue Waters Island’. It was the tallest and largest observation wheel in the world, Ain Dubai. In addition to the grandeur that overwhelms the surroundings, you can enjoy the famous landmarks and wonderful skyline of Dubai at a glance. ‘Ain Dubai’, which was created with the cooperation of 11 countries including Germany, France and the Netherlands under the leadership of Hyundai E&C, is 250m high, equivalent to 63 Building in Seoul, and twice as tall as ‘London Eye’ (135m). The 48 capsules that carry visitors can accommodate up to 1,750 people, and can be rotated 360 degrees to overlook the city. The boarding compartment is 11.6m long and 5m wide, and it takes 38 minutes to make one turn. Holding the world’s highest record, the amount of materials required for its construction is also beyond imagination. A total of 11,200 tons of steel was used in the structure, which is about 33% more than what was used for the Eiffel Tower in Paris, and the structure's hub and spindle weighs 1,805 tons, which is equivalent to four large A380 passenger aircrafts.