Saudi Arabia plans nine desalination plants by 2020

02 March 2015

Combined capacity will be about 3 million cubic metres a day

  • SWCC planning to commission nine new plants with a capacity of more than 3 million cubic metres a day by 2020
  • Eight of the nine planned plants will use reverse osmosis technology
  • A further 10 strategic desalination projects are in the pipeline for 2025 and 2030

Saudi Arabia’s Saline Water Conversion Corporation (SWCC) is planning to commission nine new desalination plants with a total capacity of more than 3 million cubic metres a day (cm/d) by 2020.

SWCC also has a further 4.6 million cm/d of strategic projects in the pipeline for commissioning between 2025 and 2030.

The largest project planned by 2020 is the 1.5 million cubic-metre-a-day Jubail 3 desalination plant, which will have a combined power plant with a capacity of 3,000MW. The Jubail 3 facility is scheduled to be commissioned in 2020 and will utilise a combination of thermal desalination and reverse osmosis (RO) technology.  MEED recently reported that SWCC is planning to issue tenders for the plant in January 2016, with a submission date in May.

The remaining 8 plants planned are all RO facilities.

Plants under design
Commission datePlantsDesign capacity (cm/d)TechnologyPower (MW)
2017Haql 39,000RO 
2017Duba 49,000RO 
2017AlWajh 49,000RO 
2019Jeddah 4400,000RO 
2019Omluj 415,000RO 
2020Rabigh 3600,000RO 
2020Jubail 31,500,000Thermal/RO3,000
2020Yanbu 4450,000RO 
Source: SWCC

The first three plants planned are the smaller Haql 3, Duba 4 and Al-Wajh plants, which will each have a capacity of 9,000 cm/d. SWCC received bids in late 2014 for the three RO desalination projects, and has set a commissioning date of 2017 for all three facilities.

The next planned project is an estimated 10,000 cm/d RO project in Alugair.

Following the Alugair scheme is the 400,000 Jeddah 4 RO plant, which is scheduled to be commissioned in 2019. SWCC recently awarded the US’ Black & Veatch a contract to provide engineering and design consultancy services on the fourth-phase expansion of the Jeddah desalination plant.

Also planned for commissioning in 2019 is the much smaller 15,000 cm/d Omluj 4 project.

A total of three major desalination projects are planned to come online in 2020. In addition to the Jubail 3 facility, the planned 600,000 cm/d Rabigh 3 and 450,000 cm/d Yanbu 4 plants are planned.

The SWCC currently has the 1,025,000 cm/d Ras al-Khair, power capacity of 2,400MW, and 550,000 Yanbu 3, power capacity of 3,000MW, under construction.  

Strategic projects planned between 2025 and 2030
Commission datePlantsDesign capacity (cm/d)
2025Shuaiba 4850,000
2025Shuqaiq 3325,000
2025Al-Khobar 4775,000
2025Duba 512,000
2025Haql 47,500
2030Jeddah 5400,000
2030Rabigh 4600,000
2030Ras al-Khair 21,000,000
2030Yanbu 5400,000
Source: SWCC

Saudi Arabia, the world’s biggest consumer of desalinated water, is planning the proposed projects to cope with the expected domestic and industrial demand. Saudi Arabia will account for 40 per cent of the forecast additional 2,233 million imperial gallons a day (MIGD) of desalination capacity required in the GCC by 2020, according to latest research from MEED’s research division MEED Insight.

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