Neom desalination deadline extended

26 January 2024

A consortium of Neom subsidiary Enowa, Japan’s Itochu and France’s Veolia has extended the last day for engineering, procurement and construction (EPC) contractors to submit proposals for a planned zero liquid discharge (ZLD) seawater reverse osmosis (SWRO) desalination plant in Neom to February.

The three companies signed a joint development agreement to develop the scheme in December 2022, approximately six months after they signed a memorandum of understanding (MoU) to develop the plant, which will be powered by renewable energy in Oxagon, Neom’s industrial cluster.

Industry sources say at least two contractors, one based in Egypt and another in Riyadh, have already submitted a bid for the project’s EPC contract. 

Last year, a source close to the project told MEED that the developer consortium is expected to select an EPC contractor for the project this year.  

The developer team initially indicated that the project’s target commercial operation date is 2025. The facility is understood to require an investment of between $1.5bn and $2bn.

The plant is expected to meet about 30 per cent of Neom’s projected total water demand once complete. 

Advanced technology

In addition to using 100 per cent renewable energy, the proposed state-of-the-art desalination plant will use advanced membrane technology to produce separate brine streams.

This will enable the production of brine-derived products, which will be developed and monetised downstream.

The project will convert brine, the main waste output of desalination, into industrial materials that can be used locally or exported internationally.

According to Enowa, brine generated from the desalination plant will be treated to feed industries utilising high-purity industrial salt, bromine, boron, potassium, gypsum, magnesium and rare metal feedstocks.

Neom appointed Japan’s Sumitomo Mitsui Banking Corporation as financial adviser for the project. UK-based DLA Piper is the legal adviser and Canada’s WSP is the technical adviser. 

In March last year, Australian consultancy Worley said it had commenced work to provide engineering and advisory services to Enowa for the project. Once completed, it will deliver up to 2 million cubic metres of desalinated water a day (cm/d) to Neom.

The services will be executed by both Advisian, Worley’s global consulting business, and Worley staff.

Advisian will focus on advisory, consulting and pre-front-end engineering and design (feed) activities, while Worley will deliver feed, detailed engineering, procurement and project management services.

The project scopes relate to water production, brine beneficiation, management and storage. The project’s initial phase is understood to have a capacity of 500,000 cm/d.

Neom also plans to procure a smaller SWRO plant using an EPC model. The prequalification process is under way for the Moonlight desalination plant, which will have a capacity of 150,000 cm/d.

Additional reporting: Yasir Iqbal 

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Jennifer Aguinaldo
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