Oman wastewater market holds huge potential

06 November 2014

Oman’s low connection rates and growing population mean the sultanate will be an active market for wastewater developers in the coming decade

The recent award of a RO12m ($31m) contract to a team of France’s Degremont, a subsidiary of Suez Environment, and the local Al-Ansari Trading to build the Al-Amerat wastewater treatment plant is the latest signal of intent from Muscat that it is taking its wastewater sector seriously.

While Oman’s private power and water industry is among the most well developed in the region, its wastewater sector has lagged behind due to underinvestment and a challenging topography.

This started to change following the establishment of Haya Water in 2002 (formerly called Oman Wastewater Services Company) to spearhead efforts to improve Muscat’s sewerage infrastructure and increase connection rates. The firm signed a 30-year concession with the government in 2006 to build, own and operate a comprehensive wastewater network across the Muscat governorate’s six provinces – Muttrah, Bausher, Seeb, Al-Amerat, Qurayyat and Muscat.

Increased capacity

The creation of Haya Water has resulted in the treatment capacity of the sultanate increasing significantly since 2008. By 2012, the total installed capacity of the Muscat network was estimated to be 180,000 cubic metres a day (cm/d), up from 105,000 cm/d in 2008. However, there is still a lot of work to do, with only 19.4 per cent of residents in the greater Muscat area linked to the sewage system in 2013.

Last year, Haya Water set out plans to invest a further RO1bn in new water projects in the sultanate until 2018 and RO1.7bn by 2025, as part of its aim to connect 93.1 per cent of Muscat’s population to the network.

Oman is becoming more careful about the environment and how people live – to reduce dumping of waste

Marie-Ange Debon, Suez Environment

While the company’s plans for the Muscat area were already challenging, its mandate was increased significantly in June this year with the announcement that it is to take over responsibility for all wastewater assets and projects in the sultanate. Haya Water has said it is working on an integrated plan to implement the new mandate from the government, but has yet to release any information on its strategy. It will manage 63 wastewater facilities throughout Oman, which will form a stiff challenge for the utility.

“[Haya Water] has even more to contend with now on top of its already large workbook,” says a contractor active in Oman’s water sector. “It will need to make sure it is well organised so it can move ahead with planned investments.”

The award of the Al-Amerat sewage plant contract provides reassurance to Oman’s residents and the region’s water treatment market that Haya Water is committed to meeting its targets. Degremont, the company selected to construct the project, regards the sultanate’s wastewater sector as a market with significant potential.

“Oman has a sophisticated market – it is quite an innovative country for developing projects, whether through BOT [build, own, transfer] or specific funding – for generating capital expenditure for financing schemes,” says Marie-Ange Debon, deputy CEO of Suez Environment.

“In wastewater, Oman, like a lot of the countries [in the region], is becoming more and more careful about the environment and how people live – to reduce dumping of waste.”

For the Al-Amerat contract, Degremont and Al-Ansari Trading will design and build the 18,000-cm/d wastewater treatment plant, with the French firm also set to provide operations and maintenance (O&M) services for a period of two years.

Growing efficiency

The Al-Amerat sewage treatment plant will use membrane biological reactor technology, and Debon says this will support Muscat’s efforts to reuse more treated sewage effluent (TSE) to reduce the burden on desalination capacity.

“Our clients are developing more technologies and infrastructure, which allows you to develop reuse because of the higher quality of TSE,” says Debon.

In addition to the Al-Amerat scheme, Haya Water is moving ahead with plans to expand the existing 55,000-cm/d Al-Ansab treatment plant, which was its first, commissioned in 2010. In July 2013, the firm awarded the US’ Aecom a $1.6m contract to design phase 2 of the Al-Ansab facility as well as the Azaiba central pump station. The expansion will increase the capacity of the plant by 25,000 cm/d.

As with the power and water sector, Oman promises to offer one of the region’s most active wastewater sectors in the coming decade. The current low sewage connection rates and rising demand will ensure Haya Water will be keeping developers busy for the foreseeable future.

Key fact

Only 19.4 per cent of residents in the greater Muscat area were linked to the sewage system in 2013

Source: MEED

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