(MENAFN - Arab News) Saudi Arabia has the opportunity to become one of the centers of water management in the region and perhaps in the world, according to Olivier Brousse, CEO of SAUR, one of the three leading providers of outsourced services for water authorities in the water and waste management industries in France.
"Expansion through strategic joint venture partnerships in the Kingdom is a clear example of SAUR's commitment to this region," he said.
Brousse was in Jeddah to attend the recently concluded Saudi Water & Power Forum & Exhibition (SWPF) 2012.
He also said SAUR began its international development in the 1960s, first in Africa, and then in Europe, Asia and South America. Since 2008, the group's focus has shifted to consolidating its existing positions in Europe (Poland, Spain, Scotland and Armenia) and boosting its growth in the GCC (Gulf Cooperation Council) region, with primary focus on Saudi Arabia.
SAUR, which has various projects in the Kingdom, wants to make Saudi Arabia one of the key strategic countries for the future, said Brousse.
In 2005, he said SAUR was commissioned by the Ministry of Water and Electricity of Saudi Arabia, as part of a group tender, to conduct an audit of the water and sanitation services in parts of the Eastern Province.
Brousse said SAUR carried out a complete technical and financial audit of the water and sanitation services in Dammam (750,000 inhabitants) and in Alkhobar (360,000 inhabitants) in partnership with the Zamil Group.
He said the SAUR-Zamil joint venture won the 5.4 million-euro Quick Wins contract for technical assistance and customer relationship management over a 16-month period.
In August 2009, the SAUR-Zamil joint venture signed a 2.3 million euro Quick Wins contract for technical assistance in Makkah, over a period of one year.
The National Water Company (NWC) awarded the contract for water distribution and network management in the Makkah and Taif to the Franco-Saudi O & M consortium SAUR-Zamil (equity is split 70 percent for SAUR and 30 percent for Zamil) in August 2010.
The five-year management contract covers all services related to water supply and sanitation and customers management.
It includes the management and operation of 4,200 km of drinking water systems and 2,500 km of sewerage networks. The volume distributed is in order of 555,000 m3 per day.
In April 2011, Brousse said SAUR formed a joint venture with Marafiq, the first private water and electricity utility company in Saudi Arabia, to operate and maintain water and wastewater assets in the industrial city of Jubail.
The joint venture operates installations of significant size. For potable water, three desalination units of 37,800 m3/d, two water tanks, two major pumping stations and 29 secondary stations and 885 km network.
SanitationOne wastewater treatment plant of 140,000 m3/day for domestic wastewater, 586 km of network, 58 pumping stations and 222 lift stations, one wastewater treatment plants for industrial water of 120,000 m3/d, 35 km of network and 35 pumping stations. Seawater cooling is used for the cooling of industrial installations.
Marafiq pumps annually around 9 billion m3 of seawater to provide the industrial areas.
"This new strategic partnership is a strong reflection of SAUR's commitment and focus on long-term investment in Saudi Arabia as well as recognition of its expertise and sustainable implementation in the Kingdom," Brousse said.
"The annual turnover of this joint venture for 2012 is estimated around 80 million," he added.
Brousse, however, said water resources management during peak events like the Haj season, when the level of inhabitants is dramatically increases, could be considered as one of the main challenges for SAUR.
He said one of the achievements of SAUR is in contributing to the successful implementation of the integrated operational plan to mobilize quantity of water in all water reservoirs, estimated to be about two million and half cubic meters spread across Makkah among which one reservoir - the "million" reservoir - was filled well in time before Haj.
By KHALIL HANWARE