Jeddah's residents faced by the chronic water problem are assured of a big relief with the commissioning of a new plant.
"The Jeddah 3 Water Desalination Plant is getting ready," Minister of Water & Electricity Abdullah Al-Hussayen said on Wednesday.
"Work at the plant is in progress and once completely executed it will produce 240,000 cubic meters of water per day. The plant will provide water to Jeddah and the Makkah region," the minister told reporters after visiting two barges stationed in Yanbu.
The Jeddah water plant being built by Doosan & WETICO is scheduled to be operational by March 2013.
Al-Hussayen inspected the two barges in Yanbu, which have a combined daily capacity of 50,000 cubic meters. The barges meet the water requirements of Madinah and Yanbu. First National Operation & Maintenance Co. Ltd. (NOMAC) undertakes operation & maintenance.
Abdullah Al-Shahri, governor of Electricity and Cogeneration Regulatory Authority, and Abdul Rahman Al-Ibrahim, governor of Saline Water Conversion Corporation (SWCC), as well as a number of businessmen and officials accompanied the minister.
Mohammed A. Abunayyan, chairman of Acwa Power International, said the two barges had supplied more than 22 million cubic meters of water after they were brought to Yanbu.
The two have produced more than 42 million cubic meters of water after they began operation in 2008. The barges have all the facilities required for desalination including generators, control room and laboratory.
The two barges were earlier stationed in Shuaiba, 120 km south of Jeddah, to supply drinking water to Makkah, Jeddah, Taif and Baha. In 2009 they were shifted to Shuqaiq, 130 km west of Jazan.
Abunayyan said the company has received applications from different countries to provide barges to meet their water requirements. "This has encouraged Bowarege (International Barges Company for Water Desalination) to expand internationally in making such huge barges," Abunayyan said. He disclosed plans to establish one or two barges more to meet local demand.
Bowarege IWP, one of the world's most unique, innovative and challenging water desalination projects, was established in partnership with ACWA Power International, which holds 65 percent of the firm while RAKA Saudi Power & Water Company holds 35 percent. Saudi Industrial Development Fund had played a big role in financing the project.
Abdullah A. Bajunaid, executive managing officer of the company, said Bowarege was successful in realizing its objectives of meeting the growing demand for desalinated water in coastal cities. He commended the engineers and other workers who made the project a big success. "We are intending to increase the production capacities of the existing barges and establish new ones," he added.
The privatized desalination plants proved to be the most practical and feasible, if not the only solution to the acute water shortages experienced in many parts of the country, especially during peak-demand periods.
About the Jeddah water project, Abdul Karim Osman Smaili, chief executive officer of WETICO, told Arab News: "About 60 percent work on the ground is already done and we expect the plant to start production by end of 2012."
Smaili said when the Jeddah plant construction started, it was the biggest desalination plant using reverse osmosis, but now other plants are being built with a similar capacity in Saudi Arabia and outside. "It is expected to be ready ahead of schedule," he added.