Saudi may need US$50b for wa­ter

The Myanmar Times - - International Business -

ARID Saudi Ara­bia could need more than US$53 bil­lion in wa­ter sec­tor in­vest­ment sup­ported by pri­vate funds as de­mand grows.

The world’s largest oil ex­porter, whose petroleum rev­enues fell 51 per­cent last year on de­clin­ing crude prices, is push­ing to di­ver­sify its econ­omy through greater pri­vate sec­tor in­vest­ment and de­vel­op­ment of new in­dus­tries.

Among govern­ment agen­cies tar­geted for pri­vati­sa­tion is the Sa­line Wa­ter Con­ver­sion Cor­po­ra­tion (SWCC), which de­sali­nates wa­ter from the Gulf and Red Sea coasts.

“Fu­ture plants will be ten­dered to the pri­vate sec­tor,” Ali al-Hazmi, SWCC gov­er­nor, told the Wa­ter In­vest­ment Fo­rum.

“We have ev­ery­thing ready for pri­vati­sa­tion.”

The desert king­dom, which has no rivers, ob­tains most of its wa­ter from de­sali­na­tion and the rest from ground sources.

“This re­quires a lot of money and a lot of cap­i­tal in­vest­ment,” Man­sour al-Mushaiti, a deputy min­is­ter with the Min­istry of En­vi­ron­ment, Wa­ter and Agri­cul­ture, told the fo­rum.

“We are en­vis­ag­ing that the cap­i­tal re­quire­ments in the next five years will reach up to 200 bil­lion Saudi riyals [$53.3 bil­lion].”

SWCC, cre­ated in 1974, is the world’s largest pro­ducer of de­sali­nated wa­ter. It op­er­ates 28 plants and as part of the process is able to gen­er­ate elec­tric­ity for the na­tional power grid.

Saudi wa­ter de­mand is in­creas­ing by more than 5pc an­nu­ally, Mr Hazmi told the fo­rum.

By 2020 the king­dom is tar­get­ing 52pc of de­sali­nated wa­ter pro­duc­tion through “strate­gic part­ners”. –

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