The Federal Electricity & Water Authority (Fewa), utility provider for the UAE’s northern emirates, is preparing to issue tender documents for the contract to develop the planned 45 million-imperial-gallon-a-day (MIGD) desalination plant in Umm al-Quwain.

According to sources close to the scheme, the tender documents will be issued imminently.

Fewa received request for qualification (RFQ) documents from developers in June. According to sources close to the scheme, up to 12 firms may be prequalified to participate in the tender.

The seawater reverse osmosis (SWRO) plant will be located in the northern area of the Umm al-Quwain emirate, adjacent to the border with Ras al-Khaimah.

Under the independent water project (IWP), Fewa will appoint a developer to form a special-purpose vehicle (SPV) to enter into a long-term water purchase agreement (WPA) and a power supply agreement. Fewa will be the offtaker for all water produced from the facility.

MEED reported in January that Austria’s ILF Consulting Engineers had been awarded the consultancy services deal for an IWP in Umm al-Quwain.

The project will be one of the first IWPs in the UAE, with Abu Dhabi’s public-private partnership (PPP) utility projects to date all being cogeneration facilities with power elements.

The scheme is the latest evidence of an increasing drive to develop utility plants in the northern emirates. In recent years, Fewa has increasingly relied on imports of power and water from Abu Dhabi Water & Electricity Authority (Adwea) to meet its requirements. But in the past 12 months, there has been progress with plans for water schemes in the northern emirates.

In August 2015, Ras al-Khaimah-based utility company Utico signed an agreement with Spain’s Grupo Cobra to develop a AED719m ($196m) IWP.

Privately owned Utico inked an agreement with Grupo Cobra to form Al-Hamra Water Company, which will develop a 22MIGD reverse osmosis (RO) plant. The facility will be partly powered by a proposed 40MW solar plant, which Utico is also planning to develop.