Saudi Arabia’s Privatisation Supervisory Committee for the Environment, Water and Agriculture sectors has announced it has suspended the privatisation of the Ras al-Khair desalination and power plant, a deal which was expected to be worth up to $3.5bn.
The kingdom’s privatisation supervisory committee published a statement on its website that the decision to suspend the tender had been made “… in order to capitalise on knowledge and capacity built in the kingdom as a result of many years of experience in the areas of water desalination, new technologies, R&D and supply chains. A new engagement strategy and plan for the Saline Water Conversion Corporation (SWCC) assets such as Ras al-Khair plant will be announced shortly.”
“During the interim, SWCC will continue to be responsible for the management, operation and maintenance of the Ras al-Khair desalination and power plant, ensuring the continuity and security of supply of water and power to clients.”
The privatisation of the Ras al-Khair plant has been in the planning stage for a number of years. SWCC appointed France’s BNP Paribas as the lead and financial adviser for the planned privatisation in October 2017. SWCC had also appointed Atkins as technical adviser, Ernst & Young, accounting adviser and Clifford Chance and the local Abuhimed Alsheikh Alhagbani law firm (AS&H) as legal advisers.
The privatisation process was being overseen by the Supervisory Committee for the privatisation of the water sector with support from the Ministry of Environment, Water and Agriculture (MEWA), National Centre for Privatisation (NCP) and Saudi Water Partnerships Company (SWPC).