with Essa Bin Hillal Al Kuwari, President, KAHRAMAA
Recent 2011 figures are quite impressive: KAHRAMAA achieved 4000km of high voltage, 8500 km of cabling and 10500 11 KW substations. What were the main financial and technical milestones and challenges that you had to overcome to achieve such performances?
The last five years have been challenging years. The booming growth of Qatar was a challenge for us. All these projects that are going in Qatar, meaning real estate or infrastructure projects, need electricity and water. And we have to be there at the beginning. We are not like other service providers that can come after operations have started! No, in our case, not a single project can start without electricity and water and this is the real challenge. But we succeeded. There was not single project that was delayed because there was no electricity or water. We succeeded in achieving our target to provide water and electricity for all our customers, either domestic or industrial. The challenge was to cope with time and quality. Quality is a major concern at KAHRAMAA; it was an issue to keep the quality, the price and the time. Usually it is a formula that is not easy to achieve but we did. We have supplied all our customers with the energy they needed at the right time and with the right quality. At the same time, there was a cooperation with our international contractors, that we call our partners, like Siemens, ABB, ALSTOM, Hyundai, and many more, and with their efforts as well we were able to achieve our goals.
Along all the numerous projects that you are operating, you have managed to attract prestigious partners such as QDF Suez, Areva, Siemens, Marubeni, etc. Among all the actors that are present in this competitive market, how do you manage to partner up with the best, and what are your criteria of choice to maintain excellence through your ventures?
In KAHRAMAA we are looking at the quality. It is our main target, and we are seriously evaluating our partners and contractors based on their technical performances from a quality point of view. Of course the cost is important as well but it is not coming as a priority. We are always looking after the good qualified manufacturers and contractors and we are trying to have a variety of contractors, either from Europe, from Japan, Korea, and different regions to create the competition. We happen to succeed in that. We don’t focus on a main area where there would be a monopoly. Instead we are trying to have diversity among excellent contractors, that are big players in the market, and we succeed in having all these. In a way, we try to keep all of them engaged in Qatar. It creates a competition, when we have a big project we divide them into packages and we try to give each company one or two packages so we keep them engaged with KAHRAMAA, to prevent them from leaving Qatar. This will always give us an advantage to give good processes and facilities because they don’t need to remobilize; they can have their own offices and their own staff here. This is our strategy to keep all those big players available in Doha. By giving them part of each project, so they will always be here and ready to deal with KAHRAMAA anytime.
Water is a major issue in Qatar: with only 2 days of water reserves in the country, there will not be enough water in 2014. What role is KAHRAMAA willing to play regarding this matter and what are the concrete measures that you want to implement to drastically improve the water situation?
The water situation in Qatar is secure. We have enough generation to produce water and we have already signed a contract with QEWC for two years. We have now a new strategic project under process for adding new capacity in the water reserves. We don’t have any problems on the water shortage because we are implementing a clear plan. We have partnerships with IPP’s to provide us with the quantity we need from the water side. Now regarding the water reservoir and storage, yes we only have a 2 days stock that can supply the whole state of Qatar if we have a shut down in the generation site. This is isn’t in time of normal operations but in case of an emergency, these 2 days can cover the whole country for another 14 days. Then to increase the water capacity, we have a significant number of projects on the agenda. Next year, we will increase it up to 4 days during normal operations, and 4 weeks reserves in case of emergency. Then by 2015, we will have established the mega reservoirs. This is another project of 5 mega reservoirs that will increase the normal operations storage to 7 days and up to 1 month in case of emergency, and the tender for the building of those reservoirs will come out soon. We are on the safe side and we don’t have any problems on the water aspect.
Qatar has won the bidding for the 2022 FIFA World Cup, which will bring many development opportunities for the country. In the meantime, Qatar needs to deploy a significant amount of infrastructures to prepare the country for such a big event, and water and power are centerpiece priorities in this matter. What is on the core agenda for KAHRAMAA to support the hosting of the World Cup and what will be the main obstacles to reach objectives on time?
It is a huge and hot issue ! If not the hottest, along with the green issue. Since it has been awarded to Qatar, we have been working on it. And even before we won the bid, we were already planning on how to meet our objectives and goals in having a good World Cup. We have a clear mandate for KAHRAMAA, we don’t foresee any problems on the generation and the transmission side because we have very good planning, and the idea now is to make sure that the distribution network will be able to combine such a big event. But we are working on that, we have a big plan, we have several meetings with the organizational committee, and we are signing an MOU with them to identify our roles and responsibilities in managing such an event. I tam sure we will not have any problem and we will be ready!
There clearly is a strong green trend emerging in the country, biggest proof in this regard is the recent creation of the ministry of the environment or the upcoming conference on climate change. KAHRAMAA recently signed a Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) with Siemens and Qatar University to develop energy efficiency solutions. What is KAHRAMAA doing at its operational level towards energy efficiency and reducing its impact on the environment?
We can look into this issue from different angles. First of all, from our business we keep our operations green. That is why we implement all our business in the greenest way possible right from the start. By reducing the pollution, CO2, according to the international standards, and even better than the international standards. The other side, when we are dealing with our own operations, we are trying to be environmentally friendly, avoiding many material which will harm the environment. As for the initiatives we are implementing in that regard, we have established a new section among KAHRAMAA, regarding the renewable energies. We are trying with all stakeholders of the country, to be a leader in a country to start using renewable energies. We found that the most economic renewable source is the solar here in Qatar. So we are focusing on that, we have many initiatives, one of them with Siemens and Qatar University with whom we have signed an MOU. We also have many more initiatives that will come soon. One of them is with Qatar Foundation, that will start one project, a desalination plant using the solar energy. This will be soon announced before COP 18 and it is now under the process of signing, so KAHRAMAA will provide them with site, connection to the network, and they will provide us with the technology and the fund. There is another initiative on which we work with one of our partner, to cover one of our mega reservoirs with photovoltaic panels to produce electricity. It will be a pilot project, and if it succeeds we will duplicate it to open more similar projects with photovoltaic panels. We are also trying to implement a clear policy with the official authorities of Qatar to encourage and promote other companies to use renewable energies, either solar or other sources. We are now working with them and it will be announced when it is launched.
The price of energy is low in Qatar due to the large amount of fuel available to produce electricity, and people tend to have the highest electricity consumption rate here. What are you doing at your level to educate people on how to consume more responsibly?
We have a full dedicated department concentrating on conversation and energy efficiency. We have launched a campaign called Tarsheed, which is a campaign aiming to reduce consumption of water and electricity. It was launched under the patronage of His Royal Highness Prince Tamim the Heir Apparent. There are two goals: one is to reduce the consumption of electricity by 20% per capita, and the other one is to reduce the water consumption by 35% per capita. This has a lot of impact on the society. The way we are implementing this campaign is truly through education. We want to change the attitude towards the usage of water and electricity. We have many steps in that campaign that will come one by one. But so far the feedbacks that we have had are really positive, and we can say that the society is willing to cooperate. The media is involved as well because they want to participate and people want to commit. That will be the biggest initiative that we have to reduce our impact on the environment and the target will be to reduce CO2 emissions by 3% within 5 years.
We met with Dolphin Energy last week, and the General Manager, Mr. Adel Albuainain, was telling us how important the alliance with GCC countries through energy is. With KAHRAMAA in the process of joining GCC Interconnection Grid, what is your insight on the role that KAHRAMAA can play in the cooperation with GCC countries?
On the water side, we are under the process of implementing interconnection with the GCC countries. I was recently in Saudi Arabia and the project was given to one international consultant, the decision will soon be taken on that issue. This will give us another source of water in case of emergency, so we can definitely say that the water area is safe in the country.Interconnection in water and electricity is very important and it will lead to something even bigger in terms of regional integration. This is the beauty of it. We are now interconnected with the 5 GCC countries except Oman that will come soon.Such interconnection has proved to be successful and all countries have enjoyed the benefits of it, and now there is even a new idea to interconnect the whole GCC area through Turkey. If it is approved, it will be a big movement towards the international market. There are studies about the connection with Yemen for instance. But we are currently looking at improving first the quality of interconnection between the GCC countries. Now it is only for emergency or commercial interchange. We are thinking to upgrade it into a commercial way and to improve the backbone of the light in the region.
What is your final message about Kahramaa ?
The first thing is that we are ready to supply any type of projects and investors with electricity and water at the right time, with the best quality that they can expect. We assure them that KAHRAMAA will provide the best services. For our local customers we engage ourselves to provide them with the same high quality of services.