Local Consortium Secures Strategic Nuclear Construction Contract

A consortium formed between two South African companies, Group Five, through its entity Group Five Nuclear Construction Services, and Lesedi Nuclear Services has secured a strategic nuclear construction contract for the design, manufacture and replacement of the 1 800 m³ Refuelling Water Storage Tanks (PTR Tanks) at Eskom’s Koeberg Nuclear Power Station.

The components play a vital role in maintaining operational safety of the nuclear power plant by providing borated cooling water to the reactor and the fuel storage ponds. This requires conformance to stringent nuclear quality and safety standards throughout the full lifecycle of the project.

The strategic importance of this contract is the role it will play in developing and expanding nuclear engineering and construction experience in South Africa for future growth in the sector. The consortium, which is being led by Lesedi Nuclear Services, has achieved a Level Three B-BBEE (Broad-Based Black Economic Empowerment) value-added status, which is significant for a nuclear project of this nature.

As part of the skills development portion of the contract, the consortium has committed to train 45 people across various occupational groups over the duration of the contract, which is scheduled for completion at the end of 2015. The skills to be trained include professional engineers, project managers, specialists, technicians and artisans.

Des Muller, the Director for Group Five Nuclear Construction Services, says: “For Group Five, this is a step forward in our nuclear readiness strategy. The group’s success in securing this contract is attributable to the alignment of our proven tank building capabilities with the timely investment and establishment of a dedicated and internationally experienced nuclear standards and leadership division. The consortium’s aligned strengths and capabilities – and those of its partners – have made it possible to achieve the high technical criteria set by Eskom, which is encouraging for the local industry. Our close cooperation with our consortium partner Lesedi Nuclear Services has made the localisation of a project of this magnitude a reality,” says Muller.

Francis Carruthers, CEO of Lesedi Nuclear Services, says: “While Lesedi Nuclear Services has extensive experience in the execution of turnkey engineering contracts in the nuclear industry, notably Koeberg Nuclear Power Station, the successful award of this contract with Group Five is the beginning of a new era for us.

Our close relationship with AREVA, the original equipment manufacturer (OEM) for Koeberg and a major shareholder in Lesedi Nuclear Services since 2006, has been a very successful combination. This contract is testament to the local industry’s ability to localise nuclear projects, while AREVA’s involvement as the OEM ensures the safety and integrity of the tank design and conformance to international nuclear best practices. This was the perfect opportunity for the consortium to demonstrate a workable and sensible localisation programme for South Africa,” says Carruthers.

Sedick Davis, Senior Manager (Nuclear Projects) for Eskom’s Koeberg Nuclear Power Station, says: “Eskom is pleased to have South African suppliers qualify for a project of this nature, as it supports our drive for increased localisation. We will not compromise on any quality aspects and expect this contract to be an example of what is achievable with local skills.

“The consortium will also be working with other South African service providers on this project, which will allow Eskom to gauge the extent to which co-operative local ventures are possible. Eskom’s nuclear safety culture and human performance principles will be the guiding light to govern behaviours and attitudes, and we are confident that our suppliers will not only contribute, but also learn from this experience,” says Davis.

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