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Face to face: Pierre Sironval, Six Construct

by James Morgan on Jul 16, 2017

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When it comes to megaprojects, Six Construct ranks among the Gulf’s biggest hitters. The wholly owned Middle East subsidiary of Belgium’s Besix Group has built some of the most ambitious developments in the region. This is especially true in the UAE, where contractors with comparable project portfolios are few and far between.

As managing director of Six Construct, Pierre Sironval is responsible for reshaping vast swathes of the Middle East. In its 2016 financial year, the contractor recorded regional revenue of $1.08bn (AED3.95bn), and Sironval expects 2017 to remain “quite steady” with a total income of approximately $1bn (3.67bn). While this may sound optimistic, particularly in the current economic climate, his team had already secured $1.05bn (AED3.86bn) worth of contracts by the end of April.

Commenting on Six Construct’s recent financial performance, Sironval elaborates: “We encountered certain challenges in 2015, which were linked to some of our operations in Saudi Arabia. Last year, we managed to overcome those challenges, and this resulted in heights that were quite unprecedented, both in terms of revenue and profitability. Today, approximately 60% of Six Construct’s GCC work is conducted in the UAE, our main focusses being Dubai and Abu Dhabi.”

These “unprecedented heights” have been facilitated in no small part by a spate of high-profile project deliveries. Between June 2016 and May 2017 in the UAE, Six Construct completed contracts such as Deira Island’s quay wall and access bridge, and a very large crude carrier (VLCC) jetty in Fujairah.

“Last year, we were also very glad to witness the formal opening of Abu Dhabi National Oil Company’s (ADNOC) new headquarters, a project we’d been working on for several years,” says Sironval. “And of course, in November, we enjoyed the opening of Dubai Water Canal, which was quite a challenge. We like challenges.”

Describing his team’s work on Dubai Water Canal as “quite a challenge” would suggest that Six Construct’s MD is also a fan of understatement. The waterway, which was the largest project to complete in the UAE last year, represents one of the most ambitious developments ever undertaken in the emirate. In fact, so big was the $1.1bn (AED3.7bn) megaproject that its completion had to be confirmed by satellite photography.

Not content to rest on its laurels, Six Construct is pushing ahead with an array of large-scale developments in the Emirates and beyond. In Q4 2016, for example, the contractor was enlisted to help develop a liquefied natural gas (LNG) import facility in Bahrain, once the project had reached a financial close on a concession agreement.

“We are executing [Bahrain LNG] as the engineering, procurement, and construction (EPC) contractor, in conjunction with South Korea-based main contractor, GS Engineering & Construction (GS E&C),” Sironval explains. “We commenced work on the development at the end of last year, and we expect the plant to become operational in 2018.”

Meanwhile in the sultanate, Six Construct is supporting the Port of Duqm’s expansion. Sironval elaborates: “At the beginning of the year, after several months of tendering and negotiations, we were awarded [a contract for the] port’s extension. We are building a large marine terminal for the port, and we expect to start casting the [project’s] first blocks this summer.”

Despite contract wins in the wider region, the UAE looks set to account for the lion’s share of Six Construct’s GCC business for the foreseeable future. The contractor’s ongoing projects in the Emirates include the Phase 2 expansion of Jebel Ali Sewage Treatment Plant (JASTP), event infrastructure works for Expo 2020 Dubai, and The Royal Atlantis Resort & Residences on Palm Jumeirah.