After having successfully undertaken major projects in its hometown, Bahrain-based UDC feels it is ready to take on bigger roles and offer competitive solutions to a wider clientele.
United Dredging Company (UDC), a Bahrain-based specialist in land reclamation, dredging and related works, is lining up to be a major force in the GCC as it moves into larger reclamation and capital dredging projects.
“We have confidence in the market and see ourselves expanding operations and being able to offer a ‘local’ alternative to the investor with an ability to engineer competitive solutions to the end-user,” Tim Attwood, the company’s CEO, tells Gulf Construction.
The company last month (June) opened its new corporate headquarters in the DAR Building in Umm Al Hassam, which is seen as a very positive step for the group, creating a sense of focus to continue expansion, he comments.
UDC is currently engaged in key land reclamation projects in Bahrain including works at Hidd Industrial areas. These seven-month projects are expected to be complete this year. Reclamation work is also under way in Busaiteen North under a 12-month contract which will be completed next year.
Reclamation works in Hidd and Busaiteen North have contract values worth over BD6 million ($15.91 million).
Another ongoing project includes the provision of dredged and hydraulic fill material totalling 2.3 million cu m at the Diyar Al Muharraq site. The one-year contract will be completed during 2016.
UDC also holds credit for works at Bahrain Bay, a waterfront real estate development situated on the north coastline of Bahrain’s capital Manama, where it removed canal bunds and reconstructed the shore protection early this year, having started works in December 2014.
The company has recently completed a range of projects including sand stockpiling works comprising a total volume of 2 million cu m at Askar; supply of 500,000 cu m of sand for reclamation at Sheikh Isa Airbase; supply of 580,000 cu m of sand for reclamation in Hidd near Sheikh Khalifa Park; reclamation works for the Ministry of Housing at Sanad, Sitra, Nabi Saleh, Arad, and other areas involving 1.5 million cu m of sand; reclamation of a 21,400-sq-m area in Askar; and reclamation works for a 86-m-long jetty in Hidd.
Commenting on business over the past year, Attwood says it hit an all-time low in 2014 and although demand remained quite static, the price of sand fell. This year, on the other hand, has seen a slight improvement as demand has gradually increased. Also, due to the lack of aggregates seen recently with the temporary closure of the quarry, demand is on the rise once more, and prices are steadily increasing, he says.
“So far, 2015 has proven to be extremely positive,” he continues. “We have secured new business that may see us throughout 2017, and have begun (negotiations) on purchasing a further larger TSHD (trailing suction hopper dredger) vessel currently operating in Europe at a cost of over $12 million.”
UDC, a privately owned company, specialises in land reclamation, capital dredging, coastal protection and supplies of unwashed raw materials for the construction industry.
“As a full corporate member of CEDA (Central Dredging Association), we strive to improve and advance our dredging processes, and follow best practice,” he says.
The company maintains a fully IACS (International Association of Classification Societies)-classed fleet of vessels incorporating specialist marine equipment and employs a highly skilled operations team. Its marine crew commutes to Bahrain from as far as Russia, Denmark, and the Netherlands to name a few.
UDC currently operates three ships: Al Qadisiyah and Al Yarmouk which are TSHDs and UDC Aqua, which is a suction dredger, and is also about to deploy a new CSD (cutter suction dredger).
Elaborating on these dredgers, Attwood says: “The Al Yarmouk and Al Qadisiyah are able to offload using three methods – shore pipe, split hull and rainbow. The latter two of the methods are only utilised during reclamation processes.
“The UDC Aqua can operate two systems of loading; the first is via a trailing drag head, and the second via a stationary head that utilises water jets and extracts sand from below the sea bed. This, in turn, enables UDC to offer multiple types and grades of raw sand products that are suitable for block, readymix and plaster applications.”
He points out that particularly due to the nature of the industry the company operates in, safety is of paramount importance and stringent safety measures are enforced at all times in both marine- and land-based environments in line with both local and international legislation.
“We pride ourselves on operating to International Safety Management codes ensuring that our safety system, oil pollution emergency plan, and ship security plans are understood and adhered to at all times by all staff and crew.
“As a responsible operator, we ensure our environmental impact is minimised, making certain we apply best-practice methods at all times,” he states.
UDC owns and operates two fully equipped jetties in Ras Zuwayyed and Bahrain Investment Wharf, Hidd. These jetties are compliant with all ministry, and HSE (health, safety and environment) requirements and are managed in line with IMO’s ISPS (ship and port facility security code of the International Maritime Organisation) standards.
Attwood says quality has always remained at the forefront of UDC’s business model. “We have the capacity to produce a much larger quantity but we prefer to cater to our clients’ needs and focus on quality materials. This has proven to be a better long-term strategy and has enabled us to increase our market share substantially,” he indicates.
The company employs 2,500 people regionally and 260 in Bahrain. Apart from its head office in Umm Al Hassam, it has other offices in Askar and Hidd for jetty operations, and Ma’ameer Industrial Area (parent headquarters).
“UDC has a fully fledged office of designers, planners and project management staff, all with varying amounts of marine engineering experience. We enjoy the challenge and look forward to being able to assist in the growth of the region,” Attwood concludes.