The US/Japanese Ionics/Mitsui & Companyconsortium was the only group to submit a complete bid for the 200,000-cubic-metre-a-day plant. The remaining three groups – Barna Invst with Pridesa, Cobra-Abensur-Codesawith Sadyt, and Inima– all of Spain – failed to include bid bonds as part of their offer.

AEC has given the Spanish groups until 31 March to comply with a demand to present the $500,000 guarantees. Qualified groups – will be asked to submit commercial bids for the Hamma project in June/July, though AEC says the prices may be called for earlier if some or all of the Spanish groups fail to present bid bonds.

AEC is preparing to launch a tender for a second Algiers desalination plant at the end of April. The exact site for the new plant has yet to be disclosed, but the company says the plant will use the same process and have the same capacity as the Hamma plant. In the case of both plants, the selected contractor will form a project company with AEC and water offtaker Algerienne des Eaux (ADE)to design, finance, construct, operate, own and maintain the desalination facility.