Aluminium Bahrain (Alba) commissioned Potline 6 ahead of Bahrain's 47th National Day celebrations on 16-17 December, 2018, with the first pot energisation logged on 13 December, 2018 expected to make the firm the world’s largest aluminium smelter. In a statement, Alba said the achievement on Line 6’s construction is “breakthrough record” since it “brought forward the first hotel metal milestone ahead of its scheduled date on 1 January, 2019”.
This record, Alba said, makes it the fastest construction scheme ever delivered in the aluminium sector.
The Line 6 Expansion project, as Potline 6’s development is dubbed, is one of the GCC’s largest brownfield investments, and is due to increase Alba’s annual production by 540,000 tonnes. This will raise its total production capacity to 1.5 million tonnes per year. Line 6’s commissioning precedes the gradual ramp-up of 424 of its pots, with the operation’s conclusion making Alba the world’s largest smelter.
Line 6’s capital expenditure totals $3bn (BHD1.1bn), and involved the construction of a sixth potline using UAE-based Emirates Global Aluminium’s (EGA) DX+ Ultra Technology, in addition to the 1,792 megawatt Power Station 5 (PS 5) and related industrial services. EGA and Alba’s collaboration marked the first time an Emirati industrial company had internationally licensed its large-scale technology.
Alba’s board approved Line 6’s expansion in June 2015, with the company securing natural gas supply for the scheme in November that year.
US construction giant Bechtel worked as the engineering, procurement, and construction management (EPCM) contractor for Alba’s Line 6, while PS 5 saw the GE and Gama Consortium involved as its engineering, procurement, and construction (EPC) contractor. Siemens was involved as the power distribution system contractor for PS 5.
Front-end engineering design studies for Line 6 were completed in Q1 2017, whilst construction site work began in Q2 2017, with mass earthworks completed on schedule in Q3 of the same year. First concrete for Potline 6’s foundation was laid in May 2017, with total concrete foundations expected to reach 85,000m3 upon completion.
Commenting on the commissioning of Line 6, Alba chairman, Shaikh Daij bin Salman bin Daij Al Khalifa, said: “On this dual occasion, the National Day [of Bahrain, on 16-17 December] and the commissioning of Potline 6, I would like to express my sincere congratulations and utmost appreciation to Bahrain’s leadership for their guidance and wise directives, and to the Government of Bahrain for endorsing Alba’s Line 6 Expansion Project and for trusting us to achieve this landmark project.
“Celebrating the commissioning of Potline 6 during the much-awaited National Day celebration makes it all the more significant as it will always be remembered.
“We are also very pleased to have started the commissioning of Potline 6 safely ahead of schedule and for that I would like to thank Bechtel, our EPCM contractor for Line 6 Expansion Project Smelter, and Alba’s executive management for their hands-on orchestration as well as our employees and contractors for embracing extreme ownership,” Al Khalifa continued.
Bechtel’s global business unit president for mining and metals, Paige Wilson, added: “We are very proud of this achievement. The Alba Potline 6 Project’s 24-month schedule to first hot metal, or first aluminium, is six months faster than the industry standard.
“This is a world-class achievement for Bahrain, Alba, and Bechtel. This success was only made possible thanks to the very strong collaborative relationship Alba and Bechtel have formed.”
Line 6’s expansion saw JP Morgan, Gulf International Bank, and National Bank of Bahrain involved as financial advisors. Its commissioning was announced on 13 December, 2018, at an event attended by Alba’s chairman, officials from EGA – including executive vice president for midstream operatons, Dr Ali Al Zarouni – Alba chief executive officer (CEO), Tim Murray; deputy CEO, Ali Al Baqali; and Bechtel officials, including project director, Denis Garrity.