Saudi Arabia on Wednesday announced over 60 water projects, worth SR35 billion (US$9.33 billion), that will secure the country’s position as the world’s largest water desalination market. The announcement was made at MENA Desalination Projects Forum 2022.
“Saudi Arabia has been increasing its investment in clean energy, power and water. In the water sector, we have integrated the water desalination and wastewater treatment and have been expanding our capacities across the industry,” Engineer Khaled Al Qureshi, Chief Executive Officer of Saudi Water Partnership Company (SWPC), said in his keynote address.
“We have been increasing the number of water projects over the last few years. In 2020, our organisation approved 11 Independent Water Projects (IWPs) and 9 Independent Sewage Treatment Projects (ISTPs), while last year we approved 8 IWPPS, 14 Independent Strategic Water Reservoir (ISWR) projects and 7 Small Sewerage Treatment Plant (SSTP) project clusters.
“However, I am happy to announce that this year, we have approved more than 60 water and sewerage projects, worth more than SR35 billion, that will increase water desalination capacity as well as increase strategic water reserves and the capacity to treat more wastewater in the coming years.”
The announced projects, once completed, will increase the desalination capacity to 7.5 million cubic metres of water per day by 2027, from 2.54 cubic metres per day in 2021 – nearly tripling the capacity in just six years.
“We are developing strategic water reserves that should supply enough water to Saudi consumers in case of emergency. By 2029, we plan to raise the capacity to hold 45.7 million cubic metres of water – that will serve the entire country for a few days, if the water supply stops for some reason, he said.
“We are developing a network of 147 SSTPs with 14,925 kilometres of wastewater collection network that will recycle a large amount of wastewater across the country.”
SWPC, one of the leaders in public-private partnership projects in the GCC, has successfully achieved financial close of US$2.5 billion (SR9.4 billion) during the last two years, read the press release.
Saudi Arabia’s population is expected to grow from 35 million in 2021 to around 40 million by 2026. This growth in the population will put pressure on basic infrastructure. Being an arid country, Saudi Arabia is investing heavily in its water infrastructure.
There are more than $5.5 billion of water projects currently under construction. Saudi Arabia has adopted Public-Private-Partnerships as a procurement strategy, with 70 per cent of its water processing infrastructure projects procured on this basis.
Investment in the desalination projects in the Middle East and North Africa (MENA) has increased substantially in recent years and accounts 48 percent of global desalination projects, with further investments expected to spur the market to $4.3 billion by 2022, according to the MENA Desalination Market report by Ventures Onsite, which tracks construction projects in the region.
Seawater desalination now contributes to more than 90 percent of all daily water requirements in the GCC region, according to a report. Desalination capacity of GCC countries is expected to grow further by approximately 37 percent during the next five years, with investments of up to $100 billion, according to reports. The global desalination market is predicted to grow from $17.7 billion in 2020 to $32.1 billion by 2027.