The Oman Power and Water Procurement Company (OPWP) has invited companies to prequalify for two independent water projects (IWPs) before 24 March 2015.

The two desalination projects, on separate sites, will have a combined capacity of 531,000 cubic metres a day (116.8 million imperial gallons a day).

OPWP is planning an IWP at As Suwayq, to be tendered in 2015. It will have a capacity of up to 225,000cm/d and come online in 2018.

OPWP issued a tender for seawater circulation studies at the Barka site with the intention of developing a third desalination plant there. The IWP is also expected to have a capacity of around 225,000cm/d.

Acwa Power Barka, part owned by Saudi company Acwa signed a water purchase agreement (WPA) with OPWP to expand the capacity of the existing Barka 1 independent water and power project (IWPP) by 57,000cm/d.

Sharqiyah Desalination Company, in which French firm Veolia hold the largest stake, is also expanding its Sur IWP by 50,000cm/d. It completed negotiations with OPWP in January 2015 and expects to reach a financial close in March. The new capacity is scheduled to come online in September.

“In Oman they know they need a very steep ramp up of desalination capacity as 60 per cent of the population is not connected to water networks,” says Xavier Joseph, CEO of Veolia Gulf Countries. “And the IWP model in which 30 to 40 per cent of the project company is issued as a public offering is very interesting to us.”

OPWP expects water consumption in the northern areas of Oman, including Muscat to increase by 6 per cent a year, reaching 956,000cm/d in 2020. Oman is also investing heavily in water distribution networks.