Both Mitsui & IP will each hold a 20 per cent stake in the new project company, which will build, own, operate and finance the 50 million- gallon-a-day (g/d) facility. The remaining 60 per cent will be held by ADWEA.

IP’s entry has raised hopes that the key project agreements, including the water purchase agreement, will be finalised by year-end. Issues still to be confirmed include the operations and maintenance (O&M) company and the engineering, procurement and construction (EPC) contractor. Rising construction costs had raised doubts in the summer that the original Japanese contracting team led by Toyo Engineering Companywould not be in a position to carry out the project at its original price.

The RO plant will take advantage of spare capacity at Taweelah in the winter months, when electricity demand can be as low as 35 per cent of the peak summer level. The UK’s Mott MacDonaldhas been acting as technical adviser to ADWEA on the project; the financial adviser is Citibank.