The consortium selected last February to manage the water services of the so-called South Cluster of Saudi Arabia has formally begun its mission with the celebration of a project launch ceremony (Launching Day Ceremony).
The consortium led by Aqualia and where ACCIONA and the locals Tawzea and HAACO groups are part of it, will be in charge of the Management, Operation and Maintenance of the end-to-end water cycle for seven years in the regions of Assir, Jazan, Baha and Najran, a region known as the South Cluster that covers these four provinces in the south of Saudi Arabia with a population of over five million and a surface area equivalent to half of Spain (240,000 km²).
The consortium has chosen a multidisciplinary and multinational team of 39 experts to lead the project. They will optimize the operations and management of water services in this immense southern Saudi region and implement the social, environmental and economic sustainability goals of the project.
Antonio Olivas, South Cluster Project Director says: “The profiles that make up the consortium are highly specialized and experienced, which is why their selection has been particularly complex in a global labor market in which companies compete to attract talent. However, the correct selection of these specialists is one of the keys to the successful execution of the project. People are what will make this project something different”.
The area is one of the six clusters or territories in Saudi Arabia into which the NWC (National Water Company) has divided the country to make progress towards better management of water supply and sanitation services. The ultimate aim of this government programme is to incentivise the participation of the private sector in the management of water and sanitation in the country and to generally improve their efficiency.
The contract, which involves a public-private partnership with the state-owned NWC (National Water Company) in charge of these services, covers the management of 59 drinking water plants, 380 storage tanks, 330 pumping stations, 127 tanker filling stations, 20,000 kilometres of mains piping, 43 wastewater treatment plants and 7,000 kilometres of collection networks, among other assets.
Saudi privatization program
Within the Saudi Vision 2030 plan, which seeks the modernization and sustainable development of the country, the Ministry of Environment, Water and Agriculture (MEWA) has developed a National Water Strategy (NWS 2030) that addresses the main challenges of the sector through policies and institutional reform initiatives. As a result of this process, the National Water Company (NWC) was authorized to carry out an integrated program to attract the private sector to improve the efficiency of the service.
The program aims to carry out a restructuring of the national water system in six regional distribution entities (cluster). For the development of this process there are specialized private companies. This institutional and legal reform in the country aims to achieve the financial sustainability of the water sector, and will be developed in two phases:
- Phase 1: Implementation of Management, Operation and Maintenance contracts in each cluster for 7 years.
- Phase 2: Implementation of long-term concession contracts in each cluster.
The six administrative/geographical areas that are identified with the clusters are the following: East Cluster (eastern region of the country); West Cluster (Mecca region); Northern Cluster (Qassim, Hail, Al-Jouf and northern border regions); Northwest Cluster (Medina and Tabuk regions); Central Cluster (Central area of the country); and Southern Cluster (Asir, Baha, Najran and Jazan regions).