French multinational electric utility company Engie-led consortium has reached financial close on the 3B independent water project (IWP) in Saudi Arabia that will supply potable water for the cities of Jubail and Dammam.
The project is built by the Saudi Water Partnership Company (SWPC), in association with a consortium comprising France-headquartered Engie, which has a 40 percent stake in the project, Nesma Company Limited (30 percent) and Abdulaziz Al Ajlan Sons for Commercial and Real Estate Investment Company (30 percent). The parties did not disclose the value of the transaction.
Located 65 km north of Dammam airport in Saudi Arabia, the Jubail 3B IWP plant, which is based on reverse osmosis technology, will produce 570,000 cubic meters per day of potable water supply. The plant will include storage facilities for one operational day in addition to in-house renewable energy capacity to reduce grid electricity consumption throughout the desalination process.
Reverse osmosis is a process in which water flows through a membrane that separates out heavier sediments and salts. Desired minerals like calcium and magnesium are also added to the filtered water before packaging or transporting it for consumption.
Many Gulf countries have switched to using the process over the past decade as it is less energy-intensive than the thermal method currently in use for desalinating water.
The Jubail 3A Independent Water Project is one of the largest public-private partnerships for a desalination scheme in the world. The consortium, led by Engie, signed a 25-year water purchase agreement with the SWPC after emerging as the preferred bidders for the desalination project.
“The SWPC will look to enhance private sector participation in sustainable development by providing the opportunity for local and foreign investors to participate in the implementation of these projects,” Khalid Al Quraishi, chief executive of SWPC, said.
The plant will include storage facilities for one operational day in addition to in-house renewable energy capacity to reduce grid electricity consumption throughout the desalination process, Engie said in a statement.
The desalination scheme is being built on the basis of a build, own, operate contract, with commercial operation on the project expected to begin in 2024.