Saudi Arabia’s National Water Company (NWC) plans to issue a request for proposals (RFP) for technical, legal and financial consultants to advise on its treated sewage effluent (TSE) programme in the first quarter of 2012.

Speaking at MEED’s 7th Annual Middle East Wastewater Treatment and Reuse conference in Abu Dhabi on 21 November, NWC’s adviser Ibrahim Shirazi said NWC intends to 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. 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.

About SR99m ($27m) is currently generated from TSE, while potable water accounts for SR1.576bn. By 2022, potable water is expected to generate about SR2.234bn, while TSE is forecast to generate SR2.343bn in revenue. The gap between revenues from potable water and TSE is expected to grow up to 2030.