Chinese drilling company brings water to Egypt’s desert

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Water from the well dug by China's ZPEC drilling company runs out of a 500-horsepower pump to cover a pool of sand in the Western Desert near Egypt's southern province of Minya, Nov. 20, 2018. 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. (Xinhua/Li Binian)

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 a vast desert.

Courtesy: Xinhua

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 Minya.

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 Egypt.

ZPEC uses three 40-meter-tall 650-horsepower drilling rigs and other heavy equipment 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 expectations.”

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.