19 Nov 2012 (42 Pages)
Includes 3 FREE Quarterly Updates.
BMI View: Industry reports suggest that a leading figure within the senior leadership has stepped into a dispute between an international consortium developing a wastewater project, and ruled against a plan to situate a pumping station in an area populated by supporters of the government. Though the ramifications have not yet fully played out, and no official comment has been made, any confirmation that a key private-led project in the water sector has been influenced by political rather than economic considerations would undermine overall confidence in the business climate. BMI believes the government may need to reassure investors that key projects will not be subject to arbitrary decision making.
The key trends and developments in Bahrain's water sector are:
- Bahrain's struggle to recapture its pre-February 2011 momentum – the moment when the country was paralysed by widespread Arab Spring-inspired protests – has rendered the country a mixed place for international companies to do business, even in critical infrastructure areas like water.
- Though the government remains keen on rolling out the welcome mat for investors, and has sought to catalyse private-led development with the Kingdom's debut housing sector public private partnership (PPP) deal in Q112, investor concerns about political stability and wider reputational issues have undermined progress. It is hard to see this position shifting materially in the forecast period.
According to reports in Middle Eastern business news source MEED, in August 2012, there was an intervention by Prime Minister Sheikh Khalifa bin Salman – a staunch regime stalwart – in a dispute involving the consortium developing the 100,000m 3 /d Muharraq wastewater treatment plant, one of the most pivotal private sector water developments in the country. Sheikh Khalifa is reported to have ordered the Samsung-led consortium developing the project in Sunnidominated Muharraq area to move part of the project, following complaints by locals.
According to the report, sources within the consortium said the Works Ministry had submitted a variation requesting that the pumping station must be moved away from residential areas in Muharraq and on to a reclaimed island.
The increasing consumption of water, whether desalinated, reclaimed or groundwater, will gather pace in the next five years under BMI's forecast scenario. We envisage groundwater consumption ticking up slightly compared with our previous forecast, hitting 7.103mn gallons by 2016, an increase of some 22mn gallons on our previous outlook. However, groundwater will continue to account for around 10% of overall demand in Bahrain. With continued population growth and a still fairly robust economic outlook, the key drivers behind the consumption growth look to be solid over the forecast period. So long as new projects like the Muharraq wastewater scheme meet their targets, we are confident that the authorities will be in a position to keep pace with rising water demand.