Gulf utilities move forward with major wastewater projects

24 September 2018
Regional governments are seeking to attract private sector investors to develop major wastewater projects

As the fourth quarter of 2018 draws closer, the Gulf’s utilities are moving forward with a number of major wastewater projects.

Bahrain recently awarded a construction contract for the Muharraq sewage treatment plant to double capacity, a vital scheme that has been planned for several years. The existing plant has a treatment capacity of 200,000 cubic metres a day (cm/d), but has regularly been receiving flows of 300,000 cm/d, highlighting the project's importance in ensuring Manama can meet demand and maintain hygiene standards.

But it is Bahrain’s neighbour Saudi Arabia that has the most extensive wastewater expansion programme. The kingdom’s Water & Electricity Company recently received bids for the planned Dammam West sewage project, and has invited developers to submit proposals by 30 September for the Jeddah Airport 2 sewage treatment plant (STP). In line with Riyadh’s drive to boost private sector participation in the provision of services, both projects will be developed under a public-private partnership (PPP) model.

This marks a shift for the kingdom’s wastewater sector, which, until now, has developed sewage treatment plants under standard engineering, procurement and construction (EPC) models.

The adoption of PPP for wastewater schemes is likely to rise in prevalence across the GCC as utilities seek to reduce government capital expenditure and boost efficiency across the utilities sector. Earlier this year, Oman’s Haya Water announced it was planning to develop three STPs under a PPP model. This shift towards PPP, in tandem with rapid demand growth for wastewater services, should offer increasing opportunities for developers, contractors and consultants in the coming years.

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