Acciona wins contract to build one of Saudi’s biggest desalination plants

The $571 million plant will be among the biggest in the world and supply enough water for three million people

Saudi Arabia’s Water and Electricity Company has awarded a consortium lead by Acciona Agua the contract to finance, design and build the new Shuqaiq 3 desalination plant and operate and maintain it for 25 years.

Once completed the $571 million plant will be among the biggest in the world and supply enough water for three million people.

Acciona Agua won the BOO (build, own and operate) contract with consortium partners Marubeni Corporation, Abdul Latif Jameel-CDC and Rawafid Alhadarah Holding Co. The Spanish company said it will be involved throughout the project structure as an investor, sole EPC (turnkey) contractor, and leading and majority partner in operation and maintenance.

Acciona Agua was chosen by the state-owned company in charge of desalination and water treatment projects after it offered a desalinated water price of 0.52 USD per cubic metre, among the cheapest rates anywhere in the world.

“Located in the country’s south west, on the shores of the Red Sea, and scheduled for completion in 2021, Shuqaiq 3 will be one of Saudi Arabia’s biggest desalination plants, using inverse osmosis technology and with a capacity to process 450,000 cubic metres per day, to cater for a population of 2 million people. It will also incorporate a solar photovoltaic facility to reduce its specific power consumption. As part of the project’s social outreach measures, in the first few years the consortium will offer academic and practical training to residents of the area in order to nurture the development of water industry professionals in a region so in need of projects of this kind. This project, which offers one of the world’s lowest rates for desalinated water, is part of Saudi Arabia’s plan to transform and modernise its water industry by renovating its fresh water production facilities, adapting them to modern international quality and efficiency standards,” said the company in a statement.

This is Acciona’s third desalination plant in Saudi Arabia, after the last year’s contract to build the Al–Khobar 1 desalination plant, in Al-Khobar, on the country’s east coast, about 400 kilometres from Riyadh. Earlier in 2012, it was awarded the contract to design, build and commission the Al Jubail seawater desalination plant, which since 2015 serves both the city and the industrial complex in the country’s Eastern Province, on the Persian Gulf coast.

The largely desert-climate of Saudi Arabia ensures it is dependent on desalination for drinkable water and Riyadh’s Ras Alkhair is frequently listed as the biggest desalination plant of its kind in the world, capable of serving approximately 3.5 million people in the city. The plant has a capacity to produce 228 million imperial gallons per day (MIGD) / 728 million litres per day.


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