In response to the ever-increasing water demand in the Northern Emirates and the UAE, Etihad Water & Electricity proposed sponsorship of a Sea Water Reverse Osmosis (SWRO) desalination plant near Marjan Island, south of the border with the Emirate of Ras Al Khaimah, in the Emirate of Umm Al Quwain (200 km north of Abu Dhabi)
The owner consortium, comprising of Mubadala along with Saudi Arabia’s Utilities developer, ACWA Power and Etihad Water & Electricity of the UAE have built one of the world’s largest 682,000m3/day desalination plants which has a capacity of 150 MIGD.
The total investment size is around AED 3.0 billion with financing provided through debt by consortium consisting of First Abu Dhabi Bank, Mitsubishi Financial Group, Korea Development bank, Siemens Bank, Standard Chartered, Sumitomo Mitsui Banking Corporation and Saudi American Bank.
The construction of the plant was built with a partnership between one of the leading French water companies, Veolia Sidem and the Chinese contractor, China Gezhouba Group (CGGC) and uses leading Reverse Osmosis technology.
The plant is operated by Mubadala and Saudi Arabia’s NOMAC – a subsidiary of ACWA Power and the plant sells their output through a 35-year water purchase agreement with Etihad Water & Electricity.
The project is located on the northernmost extent of the Emirate of Umm Al Quwain in the United Arab Emirates. The specific plot of land was allocated by Etihad Water & Electricity and is immediately south of the Umm Al Quwain border with the Emirate of Ras Al Khaimah, approximately 20 km north of the city of Umm Al Quwain.
The project is to primarily be located on land, with intake and outfall facilities extending into the marine environment. The land-based section of the project is approximately 23.5 hectares of total area, split within in two plots of land adjacent to the E11 carriageways. The smaller project site (Project site 1) which is located between the north and south flowing E11 carriageways is approximately 6.9 hectares whereas the larger project site (project site 2) is located east of the north flowing E11 carriageway and is approximately 16.6 hectares.
The UAE is considered as one of the most water stressed countries in the world. Due to its geographical location, the UAE has very few sources of natural fresh water, with little rain, no rivers and limited amount of groundwater. As a result, the natural water resources cannot meet the increasing demand for fresh water. This increasing demand is influenced by the population growth and expansion of industrial and residential infrastructure.
As a result, the UAE government is investing in infrastructure and water efficient technology in order to meet current and future water needs. The SWRO was built to provide a reliable clean water supply to Umm Al Quwain and other Northern Emirates in the UAE. In addition, it is in line with the National Agenda and the UAE’s 2021 Vision to enhance water capacity in order to meet the shortfall and ease the pressure on the exploitation of groundwater resources.
In June 2018, Etihad Water & Electricity confirmed the appointment of a Consortium led by ACWA Power as the preferred bidder for the 45 MIGD SWRO IWP Desalination project.
The Project Company shareholdings are as follows – ACWA Power holds forty percent (40%) shares in the project equity, while Mubadala Investment Company PJSC and Etihad Water & Electricity own forty percent (40%) and twenty percent (20%) of the shares, respectively.
The initial scope of works included the installation of the plant along with the associated intake and outfall facilities to produce 45 MIGD (204,500m3/day) of desalinated water. However, in March 2019 under the UAE Ministerial Council for Development Decree, Etihad Water & Electricity invited ACWA Power & Mubadala to submit a proposal to upgrade the IWP 45 MIGD to 150 MIGD (681,900 m3/day) SWRO desalination plant.
After the submission of the proposal by ACWA Power and Mubadala and its review by Etihad Water & Electricity, the revised Project Agreement was signed on 30th May 2019.