By Mahmoud Fouly, Li Binian MINYA,
Egypt, (Xinhua) --
People were all with smiles while seeing water massively running
out of a 500-horsepower pump to cover a pool of sand in the
middle of vast desert.
It was during one of
the pumping tests for a well dug by China’s ZPEC drilling
company in the Western Desert near Egypt’s southern province of
Producing from 600
to 750 cubic meters of water per hour, the well is one of 30
wells drilled by ZPEC as an initial stage of locating and
digging 300 wells to facilitate reclamation of some 120,000
feddans for growing millions of tons of sugar beets.
The sugar beets are
planned to be supplied to a sugar factory that will be built on
the outskirts of Minya and is expected to be the largest in
Africa and the Middle East, through a partnership between Jamal
Al Ghurair Group, owner of Canal Sugar, a giant sugar producer
and exporter from the United Arab Emirates (UAE), and Egypt’s Al
Ahly Capital Holding, the investment arm of the National Bank of
ZPEC uses three
40-meter-tall 650-horsepower drilling rigs and other heavy
equipments including cranes, tractors, power generators, trucks
and vehicles in different locations in the desert, some 50 km
western Mallawi district of Minya, to accomplish the project
which was started in June and will be finished in two years.
Li Wei, general
manager of ZPEC branch in Egypt, said that the company has 11
rigs in Egypt and it plans to bring more of them to join the
Canal Sugar project.
“I am very proud of
working as a contractor for this huge project. Our deadline is
around two years and a half, but I am sure we will complete this
project ahead of time,” Li told Xinhua near one of the working
rigs in the desert.
Since 2016, ZPEC has
worked in Egypt’s 1.5-million-feddan reclamation national
project and drilled 38 agricultural wells for the Egyptian
military in the Sinai Peninsula.
Li said that growing
Chinese-Egyptian ties and partnerships are behind the increasing
number of Chinese companies and businesses operating in Egypt.
Ross Grier, estate
manager for Canal Sugar project in Minya, said that he was
pleased with the operating wells drilled by ZPEC and that the
results of the pumping tests were “a lot better than our
Grier noted that the
total investment in the sugar beet estate and the factory nearly
reached one billion U.S. dollars, adding that the constructions
will start in about six months and will hopefully be completed
within 42 months.
“The estate is going
to be about 50,000 hectares. The area of the factory is about a
hundred hectares and it will be the largest factory in the
Middle East and possibly in the world, for it is going to run
36,000 tons of sugar beet per day,” the estate manager said.
The factory will run
by February 2022 and it will require about 5.5 million tons of
sugar beet per year, with an expected number of workers to be
around 1,200 for the farm and 400 for the factory, he said.
While the pumping
test was passing successfully, one of the rigs appeared from a
distance in another spot of the desert with a high fountain of
water coming out of it and splashing in the air, reaching the
top of the 35-m mast of the rig.
“The first well we
drilled took us more than a month due to the nature of this
land, but now we can finish a well from scratch in week,” ZPEC
site operation manager Amir Mohamed told Xinhua near the giant
rig, noting that ZPEC has about 200 workers on the site, mostly
Everyone on the
site, including managers, engineers, technicians and helpers
wore ZPEC red overalls, white helmets and black safety shoes.
between each of the first 30 wells is about six km, which needed
to open up some roads in the desert to pave the way for moving
rigs, power generators, pumps and other heavy equipment from
well to well.
“We use loaders,
tractors, gliders and water trucks to open up some roads in the
desert for ZPEC work. Our work is a must before the drilling
process. We’ve finished about 120 km of six-meter wide roads to
connect the first 30 wells and the project will need about 400
km of such roads in total,” said Gamal Abdullah, a local
subcontractor working for ZPEC in leveling roads and providing
vehicles and equipment.
“I have worked with
many foreign companies of different nationalities and I have
been working with ZPEC for about three years now and I can say
it is really one of the best in terms of work system and
drilling expertise,” Abdullah said.