The consortium led by Aqualia (51%), which also includes the Saudi service companies Tawzea (39%) and HAACO (10%), has just signed the agreement for the award of the contract for the management, operation, and maintenance (MOM) of the end-to-end water cycle in the Saudi regions of Qassim, Hail, Al-Jouf and Northern Border in the north of the kingdom.
Aqualia is the official leader of the consortium according to the terms of the public tender. The so-called North Cluster, which includes these four regions of northern Arabia and has a population of more than three million people in an area equivalent to three quarters of Spain (380,000 km²), is one of the 6 clusters, territories of Arabia into which the state entity NWC (National Water Company), the client of the contract, has divided the country to move towards improved management of water supply and sanitation services.
The aim of this programme of the government of the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia is to encourage private sector participation in the management of the country's water and sanitation services and to improve efficiency across the board.
This North Cluster contract, executed by a multidisciplinary team of experts from the consortium companies, will optimise the management and pursue the social, environmental, and economic sustainability of the end-to-end water cycle in the vast Saudi northern region.
The contract includes the management of, among other assets, 92 water treatment plants, 657 reservoirs, 664 abstraction wells, 150 drinking water pumping plants, 67 tank filling stations, 18,000 kilometres of main pipelines, 14 wastewater treatment plants and 7,000 kilometres of sewerage networks.
Saudi privatisation programme
As part of the Saudi Vision 2030 plan, which seeks the modernisation 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 policy and institutional reform initiatives. As a result of this process, the National Water Company (NWC) was authorised to implement an integrated private sector attraction programme to improve service efficiency.
The programme aims to restructure the national water system into six regional distribution entities (clusters). Specialised private companies are involved in the development of this process. 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 (MOM Contracts) in each cluster for 7 years duration.
Phase 2: Implementation of long-term concession contracts in each cluster.
The six administrative/geographical areas identified with the clusters are as follows: East Cluster (Eastern region of the country); West Cluster (Mecca region); North Cluster (Qassim, Hail, Al-Jouf and Northern Border regions); North West Cluster (Medina and Tabuk regions); Central Cluster (Central Area of the country); and South Cluster (Asir, Baha, Najran and Jazan regions), the management of which Aqualia was awarded earlier this year and is currently already in the implementation phase.
Between the two contracts awarded to Aqualia, South Cluster and North Cluster, the company will manage water for more than 8 million people and a surface area larger than that of Spain.
The water cycle management of the other 4 administrative divisions has been awarded to consortiums led by the French companies Suez, Saur, and Veolia.
Aqualia, a benchmark in water management in Saudi Arabia
Aqualia has been working in the Middle East since 2011. In Riyadh, the capital of Saudi Arabia, for five years it developed a major project to optimise the city's water supply network, enabling it to offer a better service to more than 3 million inhabitants.
In the same country, Aqualia is also currently managing the affected services of the capital's metro works (also implemented by the FCC Group) and has operated and maintained the Hadda and Arana wastewater treatment plants in the city of Mecca.
In early 2020, Aqualia acquired 51% of the company HAAISCO (Haji Abdullah Alireza Integrated Services Ltd) from the Saudi Arabian group Haji Abdullah Alireza, which is responsible for the operation and maintenance of several desalination plants in Arabia. Among them is the King Abdulaziz International Airport plant in Jeddah, a concession of the Qatarat company, of which Aqualia also acquired 51% in the same operation.
These acquisitions marked the beginning of an alliance that in a short period of time produced significant successes such as the award in 2021 in Jizán (southwest of the Kingdom) of the water supply to one of the main industrial complexes in Saudi Arabia.
Aqualia also operates and maintains, through HAAISCO, two other desalination plants in Saudi Arabia.
Aqualia, among the world leaders in water management
Aqualia is the water management company owned by the citizen services group FCC (51%) and the Australian ethical fund IFM Investors (49%). The company is the fourth largest water company in Europe by population served and the ninth largest in the world, according to the latest Global Water Intelligence ranking (March 2021).
It currently serves 45 million users in 17 countries: Algeria, Saudi Arabia, Colombia, Chile, Ecuador, Egypt, United Arab Emirates, Spain, France, Italy, Mexico, Oman, Portugal, Qatar, Czech Republic, Romania, and Georgia. In the 2021 financial year, the company had a turnover of €1.17 billion and maintained a business portfolio of more than €15 billion.