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Emirate Expansion

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Fujairah’s Northern Land Reclamation Project

Fujairah Bulk Shipping LLC (FBSL) have successfully won one of the largest contracts in the United Arab Emirates (UAE), to reclaim land from the sea for the Fujairah Municipality – the emirate of Fujairah is the fifth largest of the seven emirates that make up the UAE, with a population in excess of 130,000.

With MUC Engineering acting as the project consultants, this ambitious venture will create a new land mass measuring 4.8km in length by 500m in width along the coastline, near the Port of Fujairah, and in turn remove a large mountain adjacent to the project by means of drilling, blasting and large-scale quarrying operations.

The completed land mass will be used for the processing and exporting of oil delivered from Abu Dhabi via a new pipeline, which is currently being installed. The land will house a refinery as well as vast storage tanks that will greatly increase Fujairah’s oil storage capacity.

Fujairah Bulk Shipping

FBSL were incorporated as a limited liability company in the UAE in January 2006. The company’s strength and access to key resources, when required, lies in its shareholders, including:

  • The Government of Fujairah: The emirate of Fujairah is ruled by His Highness Sheikh Hamad bin Mohammed Al Sharqi, who succeeded his father in 1974 and is one of the seven rulers who make up the Supreme Council of Rulers which governs the UAE. The Government of Fujairah takes an active interest in the strategic expansion of FBSL and is represented on the company’s board by chairman A.G. Behroozian.
  • Pacific Basin Shipping Ltd: Pacific Basin were established in 1998, owning one ship and managing seven others. Today the group controls a fleet of 120 vessels and in 10 years has grown in scope from a single-ship operation worth US$3 million into a US$2.5 billion market capitalization enterprise encompassing dry bulk operations, roll-on/roll-off ferries, ports and port services. The company has almost 300 shore-based staff in 20 offices around the world and boasts a strong balance sheet with US$650 million cash in the bank and a 1% net-debt-to-equity ratio. In 2007 Pacific Basin’s profits were US$472 million, representing a 328% increase on 2006. Two of the company’s more recent business developments include Pacific Basin IHX and an equities investment fund. Pacific Basin IHX were established in early 2006 to own and operate Handymax vessels and recorded a US$34 million profit in 2007, while the equities fund, which in early 2007 was given a mandate to invest up to US$50 million in listed shipping equities, recorded a US$25 million profit in that year, representing a 113% absolute return on average funds invested.

FBSL themselves have three main business lines: export, domestic and quarrying. Current export contracts centre around the sale of rock and aggregate products through the Port of Fujairah by dry-bulk-carrier vessels or through FBSL’s own rock terminal via tug and barge units. The company continues to demonstrate its experience in managing and implementing a single-source supply solution – from quarry development and production, including crushing (where necessary), and inland transportation to marine terminal operations, management of marine resources and overall logistics – to ensure the reliable supply and delivery of materials for time-sensitive projects and contracts. The company currently exports over 450,000 tonnes of rock a month through its own rock export terminal.

Northern Land Reclamation Project

The Northern Land Reclamation Project was formally announced on 1 February 2009 and commenced in earnest on 1 March, with prominent figures from the oil and gas business community in attendance at the official opening. This prestigious event marked the significance of the reclamation project, which is by far one of the largest schemes of its kind in the UAE.

The project employs over 400 staff from India, Pakistan, the Philippines, Bangladesh and Sri Lanka, all of whom are accommodated in FBSL’s own purpose-built labour camp, which is one of the best equipped facilities of its kind in the region. The project management team are predominantly European with a wide range of experience in their specific fields, many having previously worked in Africa, Asia and Europe. The completed project is expected to create jobs for many generations to come.

Site operations take place 24h a day, seven days a week, in order to achieve the volumes required for the land reclamation area and associated breakwater construction work. Indeed, FBSL now operate the largest fleet of new heavy equipment in Fujairah, and in view of the company’s growth requirements, its capability to procure equipment, operators and spare parts is being expanded through a burgeoning network of domestic and overseas suppliers.

The project itself is scheduled for completion in 30 months and will involve the movement of approximately 54 million tonnes of rock. During this time, an estimated 6,500 truck tyres and around 4 million gallons of diesel fuel will be used, as in excess of 70,000 tonnes of rock per day is transported through specially built tunnels under the main coastal highway, allowing trucks to pass safely to the reclamation area from the quarry operation on the adjacent mountain.

The mountain itself is composed of gabbro – a dark, coarse-grained igneous rock which is chemically equivalent to basalt. The majority of the rock (0–1,000kg) is being placed in the sea and compacted until a ground level 5m above chart datum is reached. Greek company Athena have been contracted to create the breakwater around the area to act as protection for the reclaimed area. All material for the breakwater is also being supplied by FBSL, including: 0–1,000kg, 1–1,000kg, 300–1,000kg and 4–7-tonne rock armour.

Drilling and blasting

Blasting operations are planned a month in advance and are carried out in conjunction with one of the largest drilling and blasting contractors in the UAE. Eight drill rigs work 24h a day, seven days a week, to achieve enough material to fulfill the needs of the reclamation site. Up to 15 tonnes of explosives are used each day to blast up to 130,000 tonnes of rock. This requires careful planning, not only in terms of logistics, but also because of the security issues involved in ordering, transporting and handling this volume of explosives within the UAE. There are up to five different blasting locations on the mountain each day, which entails evacuation of the entire site prior to initiation, before allowing the fleet of heavy equipment to clear the site ready for the following day.

Quarrying operations

A team of experienced quarry supervisors and mining engineers control the excavation and loading process to ensure that maximum levels of efficiency are achieved and safe operating practices are followed. The main loading and excavation areas are worked by five Komatsu PC800 excavators, with a further 12 Komatsu PC400’s being used for development work, rock armour loading, rock breaking and smaller areas of loading. Nine Komatsu HD325 rigid dumptrucks move material from areas that are not accessible to road trucks, to specific loading points.

The PC400s, each of which is fitted with a grab, select the rock armour at the face and load it on to flat-bed trailers or, in the case of 300–1,000kg material, into rock-bodies. The breakwater alone requires around 5,000 tonnes of rock armour per day. Hydraulic breakers work in conjunction with the grabs to size the rocks accordingly.

Each day the following specific requirements must be supplied:

  • 0–1,000kg — after blasting, a minimum of 67,000 tonnes is loaded direct from the face into road trailers and, in some cases, dumptrucks.
  • 1–1,000kg — a minimum of 3,000 tonnes is produced using a static grizzly, for use in the breakwater construction.
  • 300–1,000kg — a minimum of 2,500 tonnes is produced using a rock breaker and grab selection, as mentioned above, for use in the breakwater construction.
  • 4–7 tonnes — a minimum of 2,500 tonnes is mainly loaded at the face after blasting and is also used in the breakwater construction.

After loading, the trucks head to one of five fully automated weighbridges, where the weighing system automatically registers the vehicle using an electronic card system and weighs it using a pre-registered tare weight. This information is transferred to the office on a daily basis for reporting and invoicing purposes.

Workshop and maintenance

All heavy equipment used on site, including the drill rigs, is covered under a maintenance and repair contract. Komatsu fitters are based on site to carry out servicing and repairs under the control of the FBSL workshop manager. A team of mechanics, tyre fitters, auto electricians, hydraulic technicians and supervisors also work around the clock, to maintain maximum plant availability.


A fleet of 75 trailer units that operate 24h a day both on and off road are the key to meeting the client’s volume requirements. FBSL also have a fleet of auxiliary heavy equipment to maintain the haul roads to safe standards and to ensure maximum tyre life is achieved; this fleet includes four dozers, two graders, two water tankers and two compactors. The transport manager is responsible for ensuring maximum utilization of the trucks, as well as monitoring fuel and repair costs.

Health and safety

An important function of the safety department, which comprises one safety manager and two safety officers, is to ensure that the company’s health and safety policy is adhered to and that, on arrival on site, new employees receive a comprehensive induction and are issued with personal protective equipment. Records are kept of any near misses and infractions that occur on site, so that action can be taken to prevent any reoccurrence of such incidents. This helps the safety department to focus on the key issues and also assists in tracking the progress of improvements made on site. The department is also responsible for ensuring that FBSL create documentation of risk assessments, method statements and records of tool box talks and safety briefings. As all the employees reside on site, food, washing and recreational facilities are provided, and FBSL also have full responsibility for staff welfare, ensuring that any illnesses are dealt with in a timely manner.

As with any large project of this kind, certain difficulties have to be overcome, particularly with regard to language barriers and ensuring that everyone on site is fully aware of their instructions and understands what is expected of them. FBSL manage to resolve this issue by ensuring that the people who carry out the tool-box talks have the ability to converse in several languages, to ensure that information is correctly conveyed and understood. In some cases, messages are also relayed through the use of pictures.

Day-to-day operation of the site regularly creates new challenges for the safety department, which has to rise to the task and resolve situations to ensure that operations are carried out in a safe and efficient manner, and to reduce the likelihood of incidents occurring. The weather is also a major factor in Fujairah, as summer temperatures can reach as high as 50°C. It is vitally important, therefore, to ensure that sufficient water and rehydration tablets are available for all those working outdoors, that adequate shelters and air-conditioning are provided where possible, and that regular breaks are taken.

Commenting on the project, Jamie McTaggart, general manager of projects, said: ‘This is an exciting and ambitious project which will significantly help the growth of Fujairah. We have developed very good relations with the Fujairah Municipality and its site supervision company, MUC, and we have a strong management team with vast experience to ensure we deliver the project on time, within budget and to a high standard, with zero tolerance to accidents.’

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