Two major water desalination schemes with the potential to add around 500,000 cubic metres per day (100 million imperial gallons per day — MIGD) of new capacity are envisaged for implementation in Muscat and the North Al Batinah region respectively over the 2021-22 timeframe, according to the state-owned Oman Power and Water Procurement Company (OPWP), the sole procurer of new power and related water capacity under the sector law.
The projects underscore the strident pace of water demand growth in the governorates of Muscat and North and South Al Batinah, which together account for over 60 per cent of the total population of the Sultanate. Potable water demand in these rapidly urbanising regions of the Sultanate has been surging at an average rate of about 8 per cent annually, thus necessitating investments in new desalination capacity.
The first of these two proposed schemes is a new Independent Water Project (IWP) which will come up in Al Ghubrah as part of an existing power and water complex in the capital region. Capacity of the plant, dubbed ‘Al Ghubrah II IWP’, is envisioned at 300,000 cubic metres/day (66 MIGD), with commercial operation slated in the first quarter of 2021.
The second project, expected to be set up in the Sohar industrial port in North Al Batinah Governorate, will offer 200,000 cubic metres / day of desalination capacity (equivalent to 44 MIGD) based on reverse osmosis technology. The ‘Water 2022 IWP’, as it is labelled, is due for commercial launch in Q1 2022. Investments in new desalination capacity continue to grow apace in trend with burgeoning water demand. A pair of large water schemes, currently under construction in Barka and Sohar, is due to come into operation in 2018. Barka Desalination Company, which is building a 281,000 cubic metres/day capacity (61 MIGD) reverse osmosis plant – also known as ‘Barka IV IWP’ – is scheduled to bring it into commercial operation in Q2 2018. Likewise, ‘Sohar III IWP’, a 250,000 cubic metres/day (55 MIGD) plant being developed by Myah Gulf Desalination Company, is due for commercial launch in Q3 2018.
Elsewhere in the Sultanate, Qurayyat Desalination Company is preparing to bring its 200,000 cubic metres/day (44 MIGD) plant, located in Qurayyat in Muscat Governorate, into commercial operation before the end of this year.
Plans for a 60,000 cubic metres / day (13.2 MIGD) capacity greenfield IWP in Duqm are on hold pending a decision by the Public Authority for Electricity and Water (PAEW) on a possible role for the Centralised Utilities Company (Marafiq) — a partnership of Sembcorp of Singapore and Oman Oil Company — in the development of power and water desalination capacity to serve the needs of this industrial city and maritime hub.