Saudi Arabia’s Saline Water Conversion Corporation (SWCC) is expected to tender an consultancy contract to advise on the privatisation of its desalination plants.

The adviser could start work on identifying assets and structuring them as early as December.

“SWCC has finished evaluating assets that are worth about SR200bn ($53bn),” says Fahad AlDehais, partner and general manager of Dhabaan & Partners, the local partner of the UK’s Eversheds. “Now they are carving them out ready to sell.”

Former SWCC governor Abdulrahman al-Ibrahim told MEED in October that the utility was speeding up the privatisation process in response to the kingdom’s Vision 2030. His successor, Ali al-Hazmi, is expected to continue the reforms.

SWCC owns 28 plants on 17 sites on the east and west coasts of Saudi Arabia, with the oldest dating from 1980. They produce 4.6 million cubic metres a day of desalinated water, 69 per cent of total production in the kingdom. SWCC also owns and manages transmission networks.

Its power sector counterpart, Saudi Electricity Company, is preparing to spin off four generation companies.

Local developers including Acwa Power are thought to be interested in the asset sales.

SWCC is also pushing ahead with a new programme of independent water projects (IWPs).