18 January 2016
The Authority for Electricity Regulation (AER) is all set to grant desalination licence of a special nature to Sharqiyah Desalination Company (SDC) for a facility in al Sharqiyah south. "In exercise of powers conferred upon it under the law for regulation and privatisation of electricity and related water sector promulgated by a Royal Decree, it is proposed that a licence be granted to the company", the Authority said in a notification. In January 2015, the company had announced an agreement was signed to expand the 80,000 cubic metres Sur desalination plant, which is 160 km south west of the capital city of Muscat.

The project is being implemented by a consortium Sharqiyah Desalination Company, which has Veolia and Oman Power and Water Procurement Company (OPWP) as its partners. The plant is a unique world-class solution for the Sharqiyah Governorate with its growing population and economic importance. The officials of Veolia in December last announced that almost 70 per cent of the construction works for the facility, which represents one of the Independent Water Project in Oman, has been completed. After its expansion, the daily production capacity at the plant is expected to reach 131,000 cubic metres, which will be able to meet the projected potable water requirements of almost 600,000 residents.

While issuing the notification, the authority said, "the proposed licence shall be effective from the grant date and continue for a period of 25 years, unless revoked in accordance with the provisions of the licence or regulations issued by the authority under its sector law".

According to reports, the project has achieved one million man-hours worked without injury and international skills being brought on the project, including 600 people of 15 nationalities.

The Sur Desalination Plant was built by a consortium comprising OTV, a Veolia subsidiary and Bahwan Engineering Company in 2007 and is currently operated by Bahwan Veolia, which is a joint venture between Bahwan and Veolia.

Sur, the world's largest beach well reverse osmosis plant, today provides 350,000 inhabitants of the Sharqiyah Governorate with clean drinking water. The reverse osmosis process, which forces high pressured water through a semi-permeable membrane, separates salt, bacteria and other particles allowing clean water to filter through.

The original facility was developed by a consortium comprising OTV, a Veolia subsidiary and Bahwan Engineering Company in 2007.

SDC helps to fight the depletion of the region's limited groundwater resource by processing over 200,000 cubic metre day of seawater from its unique beach-well catchment -- the largest in the World.

The plant's unique facility also eliminates the requirement for chemical pre-treatment and ensures minimal impact on the marine and coastal ecology. Reverse osmosis technology used at the plant forces high pressured water through a semi-permeable membrane which enables separation of salt, bacteria and other particles to produce clean drinking water.

© Oman Daily Observer 2016