Saudi Arabia’s National Water Company (NWC) has pushed back its plan to tender for technical, legal and financial consultants to advise on its treated sewage effluent (TSE) programme.

The request for proposals (RFPs) was originally planned to be issued in the first quarter of 2012 (MEED 21:11:12). According to a source at NWC, the RFP will now be issued in the second quarter of the year.

Once advisers are in place, NWC will form special-purpose vehicles (SPVs) with international and local partners. The TSE SPVs will cover the entire value chain after the collection of sewage starting with sewage treatment, refurbishment and operations and maintenance of the assets, the sale of treated effluent and customer management.

NWC will initially transfer usage of wastewater treatment plants and identified TSE pipelines as part of a build-own-operate-transfer (BOOT) model, with contract durations of up to 20 years or more, at the end of which the asset will revert back to NWC.

RFPs for private companies to form an SPV for TSE in Riyadh will be issued in 2012-14. Contracts for other cities will be tendered from 2013 onward.

At present, only 18 per cent of Saudi Arabia’s treated sewage effluent is reused. NWC’s target is to maximise reuse of TSE up to 100 per cent. The use of TSE has already grown rapidly in the past four years. In 2008, no TSE was sold, but in 2009, 287,200 cubic metres a day (cm/d) was sold. By 2010, 395,000 cm/d was sold and this figure was stepped up to 495,000 cm/d in 2011.

Demand is currently outstripping supply for TSE. The growth of the TSE market in Saudi Arabia means that National Water Company expects to generate more revenue from TSE than from potable water by 2022.