BIWATER, the private UK water and sewerage company, has opened a regional office for the Middle East in Abu Dhabi to capitalise on recent project successes.

The company has the Dh 384 million ($104 million) civil, mechanical and electrical contract for Abu Dhabi’s Mafraq sewage treatment plant expansion. Biwater is more than eight months into the three-year contract which the company hopes will provide a platform for further work in the UAE. The client is the Abu Dhabi sewerage projects committee and the consultant is the US’ Engineering Science.

At the end of June Biwater was low bidder at Dh 55 million ($15 million) for contract 186, which calls for the refurbishment of pumping stations linked to Mafraq, for the same customer. Consultant for this job is the Acer Group. The award of the contract was imminent as this report went to press.

Biwater has an established Abu Dhabi presence in a 49 per cent share of Biwater Abu Dhabi, a joint venture with the local Rapco. Biwater Abu Dhabi, which is chaired by Rapco chairman Ahmed al-Mureikhy, was founded eight years ago.

The new regional office, in the Liberty Tower building in Abu Dhabi city, will provide a marketing and service platform for other markets, says Biwater’s regional representative Graham Porteous. The company will target opportunities from Sri Lanka to North Africa and service all areas of activity, including the industrial and pipes divisions.

Outside Abu Dhabi, Biwater is working with the Qatar Building Company on the mechanical and electrical subcontract in the Doha west sewage treatment works. It is examining opportunities in Bahrain, Kuwait and Saudi Arabia. In Pakistan, Biwater is close to securing the contract for part four of the Islamabad sewerage treatment works.

In a highly competitive market, what makes Biwater different? Chief executive Peter Robinson says a distinguishing feature is the knowledge and skills Biwater derives from two UK water companies, acquired as part of the water industry privatisation programme. As a private company, it is free from the pressures for quick profits that affect quoted corporations, Robinson adds.

Biwater says it is ready to respond to government calls for assistance in developing new ways of financing water and sewerage work. ‘Because of budget constraints, Middle East governments need to consider non-recourse privatisation,’ says Porteous. ‘There are various countries in the region that are ready for it.’