SR40bn desal projects to boost supply

The Shoaiba desalination plant, 120 km south of Jeddah.
JEDDAH: The Saline Water Conversion Corporation is currently implementing a number of desalination projects at a total cost of SR40 billion, said its governor on Saturday while announcing plans to privatize SWCC next year.
“There are a number of projects under implementation such as pipelines worth SR25 billion, Ras Alkhair and Yanbu Al-Madinah plants and a power generation plant. The total cost of all these projects will reach SR40 billion,” Fehaid Al-Sharief said.
Asked about the recurrent failure in water supply in the Eastern Province despite the presence of big desal plants in the region, Al-Sharief said: “Our plant in Jubail supplies 500,000 cubic meters of water and the Alkhobar plant 400,000 cubic meters daily. So the problem is with the network and SWCC has nothing to do with it.”
He emphasized the government’s plan to privatize the organization. “2012 will be the year of SWCC privatization. We are now working on restructuring desal plants in Jubail, Shuqaiq and Yanbu and reorganizing their administration,” he pointed out.
SWCC runs more than 30 desal plants on the Red Sea and the Gulf. Saudi Arabia is considered the largest producer of desalinated water in the world, supplying 3.3 million cubic meters daily or 18 percent of total world production. SWCC has a supply network covering more than 4,000 km.
“The government is making strenuous efforts to meet present and future water demand,” Al-Sharief said, while stressing the importance of building more desal plants and dams in order to ensure water security and meet growing demand.
The SWCC chief disclosed plans to make use of solar energy to generate power required for desal plants. “With the cooperation of King Abdulaziz City of Science and Technology, we’ll produce desalinated water in Alkhafji and Jubail using solar energy,” he said, adding that the move would help save electricity, petrol and gas.
In a related development, the Saudi Electricity Company on Saturday signed a SR4.6 billion contract to establish a power plant in Shoaiba, about 120 km south of Jeddah. Saleh Al-Awaji, chairman of SEC’s board of directors, said the new plant would add 1238MW to the network in the Western Province.
“The project will contribute to ensuring a continuous supply of electricity for subscribers in Makkah and Madinah,” Al-Awaji said. The new plant, to be operational in 35 months, will be linked with the company’s 380KV network.
The company’s CEO Ali Al-Barrak said SEC’s actual generating capacity doubled from 25,790MW in 2000 to 51,250MW by August 2011. “We have decided to implement a number of power generation and distribution projects in different parts of the Kingdom to strengthen the company’s capacity,” he added.

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