Create Monumental Work in Africa with Righteous Ardor -- Moments of the construction of Soyo power station in Angola

Release time:2018-01-05 Article source: Reading times: A+AA-

In August, the West African grassland in the southern hemisphere is dry, with gentle and pleasant breeze, sparse low shrubs spread across the suburb of Soyo City of Angola towards the west, with more and more solitary population. However, at the end of this picture scroll, a modern power plant under construction stands out on a deserted wilderness land. Amidst it, busy builders sprinkle with sweat and booming construction machines operate efficiently, bringing flourishing vitality.

The SOYO I Combined Cycle Power Station Construction and Installation Project in Angola (hereinafter referred to as "Soyo Power Station Project") is the first large-scale thermal power generation project in Angola undertaken by China Machinery Engineering Corporation (hereinafter referred to as "CMEC"), which is by far the largest gas turbine power station project in Africa. In the month, Soyo Power Station ushered in the most important moment: The solemn inspection by over 200 distinguished guests including Manuel Vincente - Vice President of Angola, Boges - Angola Minister of Ministry of Energy and Water Resources, members of ministries and commissions of Angola, and Cui Aimin, Chinese ambassador to Angola; and the unveiling of the nameplate and the ribbon-cutting.

In his speech, Boges said, thanks to the support of the Chinese government, Soyo combined cycle power plant and supporting power transmission and transformation network were completed and put into operation, which further improved the capacity of power supply in Angola, and gave new impetus to the economic development and the improvement of people's livelihood in Angola. Ambassador Cui said that the completion of the power station and power transmission and transformation project would effectively improve the power shortage and provide solid energy guarantee for the long-term and healthy economic and social development in Angola. He emphasized that China was ready to cooperate with Angola in deepening energy infrastructure and other fields, so as to push the economic and trade cooperation between the two countries to a new height.

The great honor received by Soyo Power Station Project during the construction period was owing to the careful planning and scientific management by the whole project team. It was the reproduction of CMEC's operation philosophy of upholding craftsmanship spirit and creating overseas excellent project on the African continent. It was also the best proof for that CMEC people undertook the mission of benefiting the people of the world and making it better for human beings.

However, the smooth sailing of major projects was absolutely inseparable from the outstanding team behind the scenes. With the steersman's precise control, things would mend in the end. Finding the way out relied on the unremitting commitment with the unity of solidarity and efforts. And successful outcomes were based on joint wisdom and efforts.

Endure great hardships in pioneer work and keep forging ahead

Angola's Soyo Power Station Project was planned to build into two 2-for-1 (2*209E) combined cycle units with a total installed capacity of 750MW. It was the first power energy project undertaken by CCEC Engineering Dept. No.8 and also an important propaganda highlight of the 2017 presidential election in Angola. Therefore, the project shouldered an arduous and significant task. Without doubt, it was not by a fluke for CCEC Engineering Dept. No.8 to undertake a project of such great significance and impact.

At the beginning of the new century, CMEC set foot in and devoted itself to the development of the infrastructure project market in Angola. In 2002, Angola's civil war was just over and everything was waiting to be taken up. At that time, the turmoil had not completely disappeared, but the people of CMEC, fearless of danger and difficulties, showed the courage to open up. They made overall planning and consolidated at every step, eventually they managed to carve out a path of discovery, people's livelihood and construction in the postwar Angola. After more than ten years of painstaking efforts and steady development, the Angolan market has gradually become an important core market for CMEC in Africa.

The smooth implementation of various projects such as the rejuvenation of the fourth phase of Luanda power grid lightened myriad families of Angola, which has greatly changed the outlook of Luanda, the capital of Angola. CMEC stood out in the highly competitive power construction market and transformed itself into a "light bringer" for the Angolan people, gaining high praise from local owners and governments. With its achievements, reputation and public praise in the Angolan market over the years, CMEC was lucky to be invited to bid for the Soyo Power Station Project in Angola. Soyo Power Station is the largest combined cycle power plant project in Africa so far, with tight tender time and high requirements for professionalism and the language is Portuguese. Through a keen insight into the needs of the owners and earnest prediction of the orientation of project development, the project team clenched their teeth to face difficulties. With the strong support of the Chinese embassy in Angola and the company's leadership and relying on the company's tremendous strength and advantages in power plant project construction, CCEC Engineering Dept. No.8 broke through difficulties and had fierce competition with domestic and foreign rivals. In the end, President of Angola issued a command in person to grant the EPC contract for this national strategic project to CMEC.

Thus, CMEC created another "the First in China".

Create a model of CMEC of the world level

As the largest gas-fired power plant project in Angola and even Africa, the project team fully anticipated the project duration and the urgency of each major project node at the initial planning. Faced with common problems in Africa's infrastructure projects such as the shortage of goods and materials, the long transportation cycle, the difficulty of finding skilled workers, the difficulty of logistical support, inadequate infrastructure facilities, and untimely response from the owners and relevant departments, the project team, based on the project life cycle, established a professional project schedule control team. With advanced P6 progress software, repeated discussions with the owners and all project parties, it negotiated the progress schedule and control nodes at all levels, achieving the optimal duration while leaving plenty of space for unexpected situations. However, plans always could not keep up with the changes. Therefore, only by mapping out strategies in the early stage could everything be well arranged later.

Through the field investigation of project, it was found that the geological condition of the project site greatly differed from that on the bidding document of the owner. In order to ensure the stability of the project foundation, after arguments by different parties, it was finally determined that pile foundations needed to be added to the original design, which disrupted the original planning of construction, materials and personnel entering, making the allocation of resources on the site face many problems all of a sudden. The project team made a prompt decision and planned the construction site and logistical support while organizing the construction of pile foundations. In the case of insufficient staffing, the on-site project team gave full play to its initiative and held multiple positions, not only constructing the camping ground but also organizing the engineering construction. Through three months of high-intensity continuous work day and night, the new pile foundation work was completed with quality and quantity guaranteed, and the preliminary work was done perfectly, which won precious time for the follow-up project.

It was difficult to overcome all difficulties and ensure the smooth realization of the project on schedule. The "CMEC Speed" that could creatively solve emergencies and re-optimize the construction period was the result of the collective wisdom of the CCEC Engineering Dept. No.8 and also a good trial of the project management mode of CMEC.

As Angola is heavily dependent on hydropower, the dam of the Lauca hydropower station would impound in 2017, which would lead to a shortage of electricity from downstream hydropower stations. In response to the possible power shortage, Angola's Ministry of Energy and Water Resources made a request to the company and hoped that Soyo Power Station under the construction by CMEC would have the first generating unit capable of power generation by the end of 2016. This moved up the time for gas-turbine power generation 5 months earlier than that stipulated in the contract, which shortened the original construction period by 30%.

"Create Ideas, Achieve Dreams" and making customers satisfied are the declaration essence of generations of CMEC people and the primary purpose of our implementation of projects. The project department immediately made careful analysis, and decided to rise to this challenge after careful discussion and comprehensive analysis.

The on-site project department moved the conference room to the container at the construction site, and hang up a banner of "fighting for 150 days" and the countdown board. While organizing construction units to take the time to rush to work, hidden risks brought by the pressing progress were strictly prevented. With the sun and light over the head from day to night, staying unswervingly true to the project construction period, on December 30, 2016, the first gas-turbine power generation conditions were met. Informed of the news, the high level of the owner sent a letter to CMEC in person to highly commend the spirit and belief of CMEC in going through thick and thin and overcoming difficulties with the owner during the crucial period, and praised CMEC as the most reliable partner in the face of challenges.

With persistent efforts, the CMEC team achieved successful installation and debugging of 420kV GIS only with three months from October 5, 2016 to January 5, 2017. According to statistics by the supplier ABB, CMEC set a record with the fastest installation, commissioning of ABB GIS equipment worldwide. Based on this, Soyo Power Station Project completed the first major milestone node on March 20, 2017 - the fixed-speed test of the first gas turbine and successfully completed the phased node construction task of the project, which once again manifested the miracle "CMEC Speed" and presented a lavish gift for the 2017 presidential election in Angola.

This was a special "campaign" in which people of CMEC rushed in front, and this was a "decisive battle" with no way back, in which CMEC people engaged with high morale.

CMEC's artisans exercise their inventive mind to cast exquisite products in alliance

Quality is the fundamentality of enterprise survival. Speed and quality appear to be opposite to each other, but the essence is dialectical and integral. By safeguarding all links of the quality, all kinds of acceptance nodes can achieve one-time pass, which not only saves the time of repair and rework, but also ensures the progress and strengthens the cost control. The guarantee of speed brings opportunities and revenue to the enterprise, and in turn, the enterprise can sustain the input to the quality.

In July 2013, CMEC established strategic cooperation with GE of the United States. The two sides jointly implemented or developed nearly 3,157MW of power station projects. The EPC contract value of projects involved totaled about USD3.5 billion. The cooperation between the two parties has achieved very good results, especially in Africa, CMEC has become GE's best partner. Relying on the company's strategic support, projects are based on the customer's needs. The main equipment of Soyo Power Station Project - gas turbine and steam turbine - were both purchased from the GE company. The strong alliance between the two large international companies has laid a solid foundation for the successful implementation of the Soyo project.

For the purchase of major domestic equipment, the CMEC team did not relax and strictly safeguarded the quality. A professional third-party supervision company for equipment construction was employed to conduct strict control over the equipment for all production links including the procurement of raw materials, factory processing and production, predelivery test. After the equipment arrives, closed management of the quality was carried out through the inspection and acceptance by such three parties as the project team, the supervisor for the owner, and the construction unit. For on-site inventory management of engineering equipment and materials, the project department creatively adopted the advanced QR code for scientific management and control. With the combination of the QR code technology and the information processing technology, all materials are scanned before warehousing, thus the corresponding invoices were generated automatically and real-time update of the inventory and online linkage was achieved, so that the project's materials management personnel could be aware of the material conditions at all times. It was the first time for the technology to be used in an international power station construction project and the technology has applied to the National Patent Office for a patent.

To maintain the construction quality, the project department set up a professional management team. With China's national standards as the main, all levels of industry standards as the expansion, a strict system of application for inspection was established. Each process is reported to the CMEC project department after passing the self-inspection by the construction side, and then the on-site project department in coordination with the owner's supervisor conducted parallel tests. Only with passed inspection could the next process be started. The control of the construction process was equally important. The CMEC site management team set up a complete set of stand-by supervision system according to the risk points at all levels. The quality control was conducted directly from the sources prone to risks in the construction process. On the site of Soyo Power Plant, all kinds of buildings rose from the ground, and concrete fastened the foundation like entangle roots, which were inseparable from careful examination of concrete of each load by the supervision team. All matters, big and small, from the vehicle receipt, concrete label, time of stirring and transport, to the slump degree, they inspected one by one. The first gas turbine of the power station successfully completed the ignition and speed setting, and the sound of roaring operation was galloping on the open grassland in West Africa, which were owing to the hard work of the management team on the site from day to night during the electrified trial operation. The plump paint on various buildings shone in the sun, which was the result of that the management team, based on the characteristics of Soyo power station being adjacent to the sea, developed a variety of sea wind erosion-resistant paint schemes and conducted all-around supervision. From fine grinding before painting, monitoring of salinity, the control of thickness of the primer and the intermediate coat, to the topcoat appearance and quality monitoring, the hardship was rarely known.

The team of CCEC Engineering Dept. No.8 maintains the quality with science and undertakes the mission with responsibilities. 

CMEC people pursue their dreams around the world

As a mouth-to-mouth saying of CMEC people goes, "For one project, set up one monument, make one group of friends, and expand one market", and the subject is "people". The project is done by people, and achievements and monument work are also realized by people. The foundation for overseas CMEC people to build dreams and seek development is CMEC's long-held "people-oriented" philosophy.

Far away from hometown in a foreign country, whenever the moon rises high, people can't help thinking of their families and friends, with ineffable mixed feelings. Whether it is high-spirited graduates who have just entered the society or dignified and experienced project executives, there is moment of weakness in front of homesickness. Therefore, the vacation system becomes an important part that must be carefully considered by the project team in the construction. CMEC never stints on humanistic care for overseas employees, and it makes numbers of amendments to the holiday system to raise the employee’s benefits. After adjustment of the vacation system, the fixed vacation period is changed to an annual increasing vacation period based on the accumulated overseas resident time, so that overseas CMEC people will always hold a hope of comforting homesickness while working hard.

Smile is not only a business card for CMEC people to go to the world, but also deep-seated team spirit of the Soyo Power Station Project department of CMEC. After a heavy downpour, staggering CMEC people on the muddy roads smile when they are sure that the project foundation is not affected. In the scorching sun, wearing a safety rope, pacing on the cross beam of the steel girder, CMEC people smile after confirming that each rivet has reached the predetermined torque. With a clear moon and few stars, on the brightly lit construction site, CMEC people inspect the concrete pouring and smile after affirming that the node progress requirement is met. Sleepless CMEC people taking turns on duty in the control room give a smile when they make sure that the generating unit meets the demand for energized operation.

Smile not only brings pleasure and motivation to oneself, but also brings delightful hope for others. There are doctors in the Soyo power station team from the international medical organization SOS, who not only provide medical services to the project's employees, but also provide local residents with basic medical consultation and first aid knowledge. As for medical rescue, the source of smile is as simple as it is. Presumably, that worker with myocardial infarction who once received first aid on the site might be able to smile in front of more and greater difficulties when recalling the past.

Benefiting oneself and others, the CMEC project team never ignores the development of local people's livelihood in the harvest of honor, bringing smile to local people. On August 18, 2017, the "Sept. 17 School" donated by the Soyo Power Station Project Department of CMEC to Soyo municipal government held the foundation laying ceremony at the school site. At the ceremony, the project department also donated 1,000 sets of household water purification devices to the local government to improve the education conditions in the project area and improve the hygiene of drinking water for locals, so as to help Soyo fight against the cholera epidemic. The governor and vice governor of Zaire Province, the minister of education of Angola and the mayor of Soyo City attended the ceremony. The governor of Zaire expressed his thanks to CMEC for the donation and highly praised the sense of social responsibility demonstrated by CMEC when the local community was in urgent need.

Of the project stories, most are commonplace, but the perseverance and responsibility bearing are commendable. People of CMEC can always see the big world through small one, recognize the whole through observation of the part, encourage and improve themselves, and never stop pursuing dreams. Given the limited space, the article cannot give descriptions in detail for all, only hoping to start a discussion to resonate and induce more valuable opinions, so that the spirit of pursuing dreams by CMEC people can be sketched out and followers will carry forward the spirit.