Under the terms of the contract, the consortium will form a project company with AEC and Algerienne des Eaux by the end of November. The joint venture will be responsible for financing, building and operating the plant over 25 years (MEED 27:6:03).

The plant, which will use reverse osmosis (RO) technology, will have capacity of 200,000 cubic metres a day (cm/d), making it the largest plant of its type in Africa and one of the largest in the world. Construction is scheduled to take two years and will begin once the debt financing is put in place, which is expected to be by next May. The plant will begin operations in 2006 and water will be sold on a take-or-pay basis. The offtake contract will be guaranteed by state energy company Sonatrach.

AEC is preparing to receive bids by 29 November from desalination contractors for four new RO projects that were issued for tender in August. The plants, two in Algiers, one in Skikda and one in Oran, will each have a capacity of 100,000 cm/d and are intended to alleviate drinking water shortages in the major urban centres (MEED 12:9:03).