18 July 2016
Muscat - Anticipating a quantum jump in potable water demand in Dhofar Governorate, the Omani government is finalizing plans for the procurement of new seawater desalination capacity to satisfy the region's burgeoning needs well beyond the 2022 horizon.
Strong investment inflows into the commercial, hospitality, tourism and residential sectors are behind the robust eight per cent annual growth rate in peak water demand projected in the governorate.
Furthermore, with the government planning to add outlying communities to the distribution network, new desalination capacity will need to be procured over and above capacity currently under tender.
Towards this end, Oman Power and Water Procurement Company (OPWP) -- the sole procurer of all new electricity and water capacity -- has initiated a study for the procurement of a fourth new Independent Water Project (IWP) in Dhofar Governorate.
Referred to as 'Salalah IV IWP', the proposed scheme is expected to be sized at 100,000 cubic metres per day (equivalent to 22 million imperial gallons per day), the state-owned utility said in its newly released 7-Year Outlook Statement covering the 2016-2022 timeframe.
"The required commercial operation date may be around 2021, which would imply that initial procurement stages would begin in 2016," the procurer stated.
However, to meet demand growth nearer term, OPWP has already commenced the process for procurement of the Salalah III Independent Water Project (IWP), an award for which is anticipated in the fourth quarter of this year. Sized at 100,000 cubic metres per day, Salalah III IWP is proposed to come up adjacent to the Independent Water and Power Project (IWPP) developed by Sembcorp Salalah Power and Water Company near Taqah. A number of international developers are currently participating in the tender for the Salalah III scheme. The plant is expected to be brought into commercial operation in January 2019.
Sembcorp Salalah's 68,190 m3/day capacity (15 MIGD) water plant is currently the only source of desalinated water supplying consumers in Dhofar Governorate. Supplemental demand is met by the governorate's Directorate General of Water (DGW) which taps groundwater supplies up to a capacity of around 100,000-100,000 cubic metres/day.
However, given the general preference in the governorate for desalinated water over groundwater, the Directorate General has decided to limit groundwater pumping only to contingency periods. This is also in line with the government's policy to limit groundwater pumping with a view to aiding aquifer replenishment.
While Salalah Wilayat -- where much of Dhofar's economic activity is concentrated -- accounted for 87 per cent of total water consumption in 2015, the respective shares of Mirbat and Taqah wilayats are expected to grow over the next seven years, according to OPWP.
Commenting on plans for the procurement of yet another water project to serve the governorate's expanding water needs, the state-owned utility said: "OPWP and DGW have begun investigation of sites for the prospective Salalah IV IWP. The project is nominally specified with a capacity of 100,000 m3/d, subject to government approval. This capacity would meet DGW total demand requirements for several years beyond the forecast period, although the requirement will be studied further to assure that the timing aligns with commitments for network expansion.
The commercial operation date is nominally specified as 2021; an earlier or later date may be accommodated subject to site selection and requirements for the DGW connection infrastructure."
© Oman Daily Observer 2016