Saudi Arabia to Further Develop Water Infrastructure

by Said A. Al Shaikh | Jan 12, 2014

THE WATER-POWER nexus is a timesensitive challenge faced by countries worldwide, with grave consequences for countries in the MENA region and especially the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia. Locked in a cycle, it takes considerable amounts of water to operate power plants – through the need for cooling – and during the extraction of fuel, re- fining and production. Similarly, vast amounts of power are needed to operate water desalination plants, and energy is consumed via household usage. Through both demand and supply management, enhancing the efficient use of these public utilities has become imperative. The Kingdom of Saudi Arabia has been categorized as a country with absolute water scarcity necessitating the implementation of cost-reflective utility prices, development of renewable energy sources and conservationist initiatives. Consequently, greater desalination and wastewater treatment capacity will be required over the upcoming years to sustain the Kingdom’s level of economic development. Active players in the Kingdom’s water sector include the Ministry of Water and Electricity (MOWE), the National Water Company (NWC), and the Saline Water Conversion Company (SWCC). Additionally, participants from the private sector include independent power/water/steam producers (IPPs, IWPPs and IWSPPs), as well as smaller scattered private companies. 


Council of Ministers approved Resolution No. 335 entitled “Rules and Procedures to Rationalize the Use of Water and Manage its Use in Agriculture for all the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia”. It removes the incentives for wheat and fodder production and establishes mechanisms for better control and protection of water. In 2008, the NWC was established as a spin off from the MOWE, to initiate the privatization of the water sector. Formed as a Saudi joint stock company, the NWC is fully owned by the government (represented by the Public Investment Fund). It is primarily responsible for enhancing water and wastewater treatment and reuse, and overseeing the implementation of Public Private Partnership (PPP) models in urban water management contracts, BOT, BOO and Design-Build- Operate (DBO) models. Since then, both the MOWE and the NWC have adopted integrated water resources management (IWRM) approaches for the optimal allocation for water in the country. 

Tariffs, Subsidies and Pricing

  • Subsidies

  • Water Sector Characteristics

  • Sources of Water

  • Dams

  • Market Size

  • Private Developers

  • Agricultural Sector

  • Cereal and Wheat Cultivation

  • Municipal Sector

  • Industrial Sector

  • Consumption by Source

  • Kingdom-wide Consumption

  • Share of Renewable Water

  • Water Sector Challenges

  • Water Sector Outlook

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