Saudi ‘biggest’ Mena market for water reuse
Singapore, July 7, 2010
Saudi Arabia was highlighted as the market showing the most potential in the Mena markets experiencing demand for waste water reuse and recycling facilities at a recent international summit in Singapore.
The Mena Business Forum at the Singapore Water Week brought together industry leaders and experts to address the issue of adequate water supply and management across the Mena region.
Montazar Muhalhal, executive director of the corporate strategy and planning division at the government-owned National Water Company, Saudi Arabia, discussed plans to improve operational and maintenance services across Saudi Arabia’s water networks in an effort to reduce the volume of water and revenues lost to leakage.
In Riyadh about 60 per cent of the city’s water supply is lost through leakage in the 10,000 km of pipes that transport water to the city’s 4.5 million population. National Water Company hopes to reduce that to a more sustainable 20 per cent, a statement said.
In September 2009, National Water Company appointed PUB Consultants (PUBC), a wholly owned subsidiary of PUB, Singapore’s national water agency, as the independent auditor for the performance-based management contract for Riyadh City Water and Wastewater Services.
Paddy Padmanathan, CEO of ACWA Power International, a developer of independent water and power projects, explained that the breakneck pace of economic development and population growth in Mena has exacerbated the region’s existing problems of water scarcity and wastewater disposal.
Governments are increasingly turning to the private sector to meet their needs, leading to an abundance of business opportunities, particularly in Saudi Arabia, he said.
Given their location in one of the most water-stressed regions of the world, Mena countries need to look at solutions beyond simply maximizing water supply and productivity.
Largely dependent on energy-intensive seawater desalination plants, local governments are increasingly looking to the private sector to build and operate waste water treatment, reuse and recycling facilities and address inefficiencies in existing water operations.
According to Syed Amir Basha, senior vice president at water and environmental company Moya Bushnak, Saudi Arabia has the biggest market potential for reuse water facilities because it has the land capacity and the willingness to invest in these projects at a country level.
“Government policies need to support the use of waste water if it is to reach its full potential as another water source,” he said.
With governments acutely aware of the water challenges they face, privatization of water infrastructure is increasing. All cities in the MENA region have embraced public private partnerships and projects are gaining pace.
Singapore companies are among the top international players pioneering water projects within the GCC markets.
According to Sam Ong, deputy group CEO, Hyflux, a provider of water management solutions, it is Singapore’s integrated solutions approach to water management that is proving most successful.
“We are finding that our GCC clients want us to invest in the project, build it, then manage and operate the plant with a guarantee of planned efficiencies. This is the Hyflux business model so we are a good match for what the market needs,” he said.
Other Singapore companies actively pursuing water projects in the GCC include Sembcorp who announced during SIWW a memorandum of understanding with the Abu Dhabi Water and Electricity Authority (Adwea) in the UAE to develop and build a new seawater reverse osmosis facility with potable water production capacity of around 30 million imperial gallons per day (MIGD).
Salcon, a subsidiary of Boustead, a leading global specialist in water and wastewater engineering also announced last week it has been awarded a Dh55 million ($14.97 million) contract to design, engineer and construct a new water recycling plant for the enhanced treatment of treated sewage effluent in Abu Dhabi.
IE Singapore, an agency under the Ministry of Trade and Industry, is the lead agency spearheading the development of Singapore’s external economic wing. With the mission of promoting the overseas growth of Singapore-based enterprises and international trade, the group is working closely with PUB and the Economic Development Board to help Singapore water companies grow their businesses in Saudi Arabia.
“Singapore companies have been prequalified for a number of projects and participated in several expressions of interest (EOI) and requests for qualification (RFQ) in Saudi Arabia,” said Tan Kok Tian, deputy director (business development), industry development department, PUB.
“It is a market in which Singapore companies are keenly looking at opportunities,” he added. – TradeArabia News Service