Saudi Arabia’s Water & Electricity (WEC) has prequalified nine developers to participate in the planned 600,000 cubic metres a day (cm/d) Rabigh 3 independent water project (IWP).

MEED reported earlier in January that prequalified groups had been notified, and can now reveal the list of firms that will be invited to bid on the 600,000 cm/d IWP.

The prequalified groups, with lead developer first, are:

  • Acwa Power (local)
  • Engie (France)
  • FCC Aqualia (Spain), Nesma (local), Cobra (Spain), Haji Abdullah Alireza & Company (HAACO)
  • JGC (Japan)
  • Malakoff (Malaysia)
  • Marubeni (Japan), Acciona (Spain), Abdullatif Jameel (local), Rawafid Holding (local)
  • Suez Group (France), El-Seif Engineering (local), Gulf Investment Corporation (Kuwait)
  • Valoriza (Spain)
  • Veolia (France), Marafiq (local), Amwal al-Khaleej (local), Advanced Water (local)

The client, which is 50 per cent owned by both state utilities Saudi Electricity Company and Saline Water Conversion Corporation (SWCC), earlier announced its intention to sign the water purchase agreement (WPA) for the Rabigh 3 IWP in August 2018.

The client is targeting for financial close to be concluded by October 2018, with the plant to be commissioned by October 2021.

MEED reported in August last year that WEC had received expressions of interest (EOI) from 55 firms on 21 August for the planned Rabigh 3 scheme. More than 10 developers are believed to have submitted prequalification entries, according to sources close to the project.

The reverse osmosis (RO) desalination plant will have a capacity of up to 600,000 cubic metres a-day, expandable to 1.2 million cubic metres. The project will have a 25-year concession period, with WEC as the offtaker, supported by a payment guarantee from the government.

The lead adviser for the IWP is the local Banque Saudi Fransi. The client has appointed Germany’s Fichtner Engineering and Consulting as the technical adviser, the UK’s DLA Piper as legal adviser and the UK’s Alderbrook as financial adviser.

The client had originally been planning to tender and award a standard engineering, procurement and construction (EPC) contract to develop the plant. MEED reported in late 2015 that SWCC was planning to issue tender documents for the EPC deal by February 2016. However, as with the vast majority of the kingdom’s major upcoming utilities project, the plant will now be delivered through a public-private partnership (PPP) model as the kingdom seeks to reduce pressure on capital expenditure caused by lower oil revenues.

The Rabigh desalination facility will service the cities of Jeddah, Mecca, Taif and surrounding villages.

SWCC is increasing the role of private investment in the desalination sector as part of the kingdom’s Vision 2030. It is also preparing to privatise existing assets. SWCC forecasts it needs to increase the current desalination capacity of 5.1 million cm/d to 7.3 million cm/d by 2020 to meet growing demand.

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