The power and water sectors are experiencing a massive boom in Saudi Arabia, said Deputy Minister for Water Affairs Mohammed Ibrahim Al-Saud. "The Kingdom is set to invest SR500 billion in these vital utility sectors in the next 10 years," he said. Speaking at the opening of the 8th Water, Electricity and Power Generation Forum and Exhibition (WEPower 2012) in Dhahran, Al-Saud said the government had plans to implement a number of water projects by 2022 at a total cost of SR200 billion. "Power projects in the coming 10 years will be worth SR300 billion."
Al-Saud estimated the annual increase in demand for water at seven to eight percent. "It is one of the highest rates in world," he said. "We have a project named after Custodian of the Two Holy Mosques King Abdullah which makes good use of renewable energy for running desalination plants," he said.
Referring to the wastage of water, the minister said it accounted for 20 percent of water consumed by the public. "We lose about one million cubic meters of water daily. We launched a program five years ago to reduce this loss to five percent."
Al-Saud said Saudi Arabia's water tariff is the lowest in the world. "It will take sometime for the tariff to reflect the real cost of production," he said.
Saline Water Conversion Corporation (SWCC) Governor Abdulrahman Al-Ibrahim estimated the total water consumption in the Kingdom at seven million cubic meters daily, adding that 3.3 million cubic meters comes from desalination plants on the Red Sea and Arabian Gulf coasts.
"We are currently working on three giant desalination plants at a total cost of SR67.5 billion," Al-Ibrahim said, adding that these plants would be ready by 2015. They will be followed by new projects worth SR18.75 billion. He expected that the demand for water would increase three times in the near future.
Dhahran International Expo CEO Mohammed H. Al-Hussaini said more than 100 companies including those from the US, UK, Italy, The Netherlands, Germany, South Korea and India are taking part in the annual event.
"Now in its eighth year, WEPower is still growing strong and clearly recognized by the industry as the leading water and power forum for Saudi Arabia," said BME Global Ltd. Managing Director Alain Marhic.
Elected 20th best country to do business with last year, Saudi Arabia is the fastest reforming business climate in the world. "It is, therefore, heartening to see 108 companies represented in the exhibition from countries from across the world, including Europe, America and the MENA region," he said.
He said around SR300 billion of investment is needed in the power sector in the coming years and approximately SR200 billion is being plowed into water projects through 2022.
"The Eastern Province, as Saudi Arabia's industrial hub, is seeing a large proportion of this investment, so it is apt and right that the WEPower Forum takes place in Dammam." Marhic added.
This year's conference covers key issues affecting the Saudi water and power sectors. Power, infrastructure, operations and maintenance and district cooling were covered on the first day.
A keynote panel discussion will take place today highlighting evolving opportunities in the water and power sectors, along with sessions on maximizing cooperation between all stakeholders and the promising potential of nuclear desalination.
The Saudi Research and Marketing Group, publisher of Arab News, is the principal sponsor of the conference. Among the forum's other sponsors are Al-Hammam Company, Pratibha, Schneider Electric, Saudi Electricity Company, Aqua Swiss Ltd., Drake and Scull, International Aramoon, Bentley, Harco Group, UL, Innovari and Mercedes Benz Juffali.