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Middle East Water Update: 100 Billion earmarked for water investments

GCC governments have earmarked more than $100 billion in their water sectors between 2011 and 2016 to improve desalination technologies involving solar energy, and maximise on wastewater treatments and recycling.
According to a recent report by Ventures Middle East, population growth and deterioration of water quality has prompted GCC governments to embark on major spending to combat water scarcity and ensure sustainable resources for the future.
A recent study by Booz & Company also suggests that the GCC countries are likely to invest more than $100 billion in their water sector up to 2016 even as the region faces water over-consumption with per capita higher than the global average highlights the seriousness of excess water consumption in the GCC region.
On a per capita basis, Saudi Arabia and the UAE consume 91 per cent and 83 per cent more water than the global average, and about six times more water than the UK, Booz & Company said in its report a few months back.
Qatar and Oman are also above the global average for water consumption, despite their desert climates, the Booz study shows..

According to joint research by the Euro Arab Organisation for Environment, Water and Desert Ranches and the University of Jordan, the Arab world is likely to witness a water crisis around 2025 unless effective steering mechanisms for sustainable water management and measures to reduce the agricultural consumption of water are applied.

The UAE has planned several wastewater treatment and recycling projects to improve water management practices in order to meet rising demand of this scarce and costly resource. Abu Dhabi will add more than 30 million gallons per day of desalination capacity to its water network following a green light for a power and water plant extension at Mirfa.

Abdulla Saif Al Nuaimi, director general of Abu Dhabi Water and Electricity Authority said water is one of the scarcest resources in the Mena region and that Gulf countries are among the world’s top ten producers of desalinated water.
“Desalination currently provides two-thirds of the water requirements in Mena, and the new urgency and high priority assigned by governments to investments across the water desalination sector in the region is therefore not a surprise.”

Elsewhere in the UAE, Fewa, the electricity and water authority for Ajman, Ras Al Khaima, Umm Al Quwain and Fujairah, will implement ultra-filtration as a pre-treatment step for the first time at its Al Zawrah seawater reverse osmosis plant in Ajman to produce 115 million litres per day of pre-treated seawater to feed the reverse osmosis membrane system.

Qatar is also looking to increase its capacity in both the wastewater and water areas. In doing so it is considering new technological processes through independent water and power projects, the largest being the Ras Girtas project, currently under construction in the Ras Laffan industrial complex.

Meanwhile, the Public Authority of Electricity and Water in Oman plans to build strategic water storage reservoirs in Muscat in order to overcome a crisis situation if desalination plants are disrupted, while the Kuwait Ministry of Electricity and Water will construct two reverse osmosis desalination plants in Doha, Kuwait that will produce nearly 50 million gallons of water per day.
“The water sector is a major challenge for GCC states which are among the most water scarce countries in the world,” said Anita Mathews, Exhibition Director for Power + Water Middle East. “The problems of water shortage and water security are now being addressed and the relevant factors which influence the water resources identified.”
According to Booz & Company study, desalination provides two-thirds or more of the potable water used in the UAE, Kuwait, Qatar and Bahrain, and will continue to play a huge role in the GCC’s water development efforts.
But desalination carries enormous economic and environmental costs. Despite a more than fivefold improvement in efficiency since 1979, the $1 it costs to desalinate a cubic metre of seawater is still a relatively expensive way of producing potable water.
Seawater desalination is an energy-intensive process, consuming eight times more energy than groundwater projects, and accounting for between 10 per cent and 25 per cent of energy consumption in the GCC. This adds to the problems of energy intensity already plaguing the region. The desalination process also discharges salt back into the Arabian Gulf and other oceanic sources, jeopardising their marine life and introducing new environmental risks, the Booz & Company study said.

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Posted by on July 23, 2012 in Water


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$300 billion investment in GCC water projects

JEDDAH – Spurred by a buoyant economy and population growth, over $300 billion will be invested in the GCC water and desalination projects, between 2012 – 2022 periods, reported Friday.

Subsequent to its revolutionary discovery of hydrocarbons about three decades back, the GCC economies have come a long way into establishing themselves as a fast developing region boasting modern amenities and facilitating high standards of living.

It said the GCC have increased spending on job creation and infrastructure expansion and are opening up utilities to greater private sector involvement.

While privatization occupies centre stage in the overhauling process of the power and water sector, the initiatives toward alternative energy sources in the form of solar and nuclear power, as alternatives to the heavy dependence on the hydrocarbons sector, particularly to replace natural gas as a primary fuel in power generation, has been considered a highlight of the regional power reforms

The emergence of alternative power sources will enable GCC nations to successfully diversify their economic growth from a predominantly oil based economy thus bracing themselves against future adversities arising from oil fluctuations, the report noted. Renewable energies are about to capture a considerable segment of the global energy mix. This segment is only likely to grow given rising demand for energy, supply worries with regard to fossil fuels and environmental concerns. In particular solar energy offer huge potential for the GCC countries.

Rising domestic energy needs for power generation and desalination, favorable conditions for solar energy production and interest in acquiring technological know-how make a perfect argument for renewable energy in the Gulf.

All six nations of the GCC have either embarked upon or committed to investments in solar projects, with projects split between solar photovoltaic and solar thermal applications.

The GCC region also has considerable wind resources, even though these vary widely across the countries and wind installations are at a less developed stage than their solar counterparts.

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Posted by on April 14, 2012 in Solar, Water, Wind


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Water Infrastructure Investment in the GCC


The Middle East is one of the most water-scarce regions in the world. The region’s challenge is twofold. On one hand, natural water resources are close to zero, and on the other, water consumption rates in the GCC region are one of the highest in the world.

Freshwater resources available in the region are lower than 1% of the total available global freshwater supplies. However, the region is home to almost 6% of the world’s population. Furthermore, its population growth is one of the highest in the world. The GCC population grew at a 10-year CAGR*1 of 3% (to 2010) whereas world population growth has fallen to 1.1% in 2011. It is now 1.8% in India and 0.8% for China. According to The Economist Intelligence Unit, the region’s population is expected to grow from an estimated 39.6 million in 2008 to 53.4 million in 2020—a 12-year CAGR of 3%.

Saudi Arabia has little water when compared with the United States, but the average Saudi uses nearly one-half as much water as the average American.*2 The average daily water consumption per capita is 250 liters in Saudi Arabia.*3 A similar situation exists in other GCC countries as well. In a recent study by Maplecroft, the GCC countries Bahrain, Qatar, Kuwait, and Saudi Arabia were rated as the world’s most water-stressed countries, with the least available water per capita. Growing scarcity of groundwater in the GCC has resulted in water extraction exceeding the availability of natural renewable water resources.

High population growth is therefore making it a necessity for GCC governments to thrust momentum on faster execution of water projects. Thus, it comes as no surprise that the Partnerships Technical Bureau (PTB) of Kuwait selected a power and water scheme as well as a wastewater treatment facility to be included in its first wave of projects. Investment is urgently needed to build new infrastructure.4

Water in the GCC is mainly produced from desalination. Even though this is a very costly process—as it requires higher amounts of energy to convert sea water into drinking water—compared with pumping water out of the ground, it is still the most practical solution for the GCC. The GCC already accounts for  approximately 57% of world’s total desalination capacity. Saudi Arabia, which operates 30 desalination plants and produces 24 million cubic meters of water per day, is the world’s largest producer of desalinated water. The GCC region is bestowed with high oil and gas reserves which make desalination projects relatively less costly when compared with the rest of the world.

However, alternatives are being sought. There is an urgent need for alternative and improved water management practices. To better manage this scarce and costly resource, these countries are looking at new options. Some projects for wastewater treatment and recycling are planned. Kuwait showed the way in this area as far back as 2004, with its Sulaibiya wastewater treatment works. With a capacity of 425,000 cubic meters per day, it was at that time the largest wastewater treatment and reclamation project in the world.

Pricing is a crucial and politically charged issue. The GCC-wide estimate for producing and supplying a cubic meter of water is US$2. However, depending on the country, customers currently pay, on a non-weighted average basis, only around 60% of this cost.*5 This varies from 2% for Saudi Arabia to almost the full cost in the UAE (except Abu Dhabi).

*1 -Compounded annual growth rate.
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Posted by on November 2, 2011 in Oil, Water


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