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Tue 11 Dec 2007 02:33 AM

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Saudi to splash $54bn on water

Kingdom plans massive expansion of water network, with $37bn earmarked for capital projects, official says.

Saudi Arabia plans to spend up to $54 billion by 2020 on expanding and operating its water network, a minister said yesterday.

Deputy water & electricity minister Loay Al-Musallam told the Meed Wastewater Treatment & Reuse conference in Abu Dhabi “We plan to spend $37 billion on capital projects and $17 billion on operating the network”. A further $40 billion will be spent on desalination projects.

A new body will be created from January to handle sewage treatment in Riyadh, Jeddah, Medina and Al-Khobar/Dammam, the official added. The National Water Company will launch with $6 billion capital, rising to $20 billion as privatisation develops and it takes on more systems across the country.

According to Al-Musallam, regulation of the water reuse system after privatisation could be handled by the existing power and water regulator, the Electricity Co-generation Regulatory Authority (ECRA), or by a new body.

A new water tariff is also under consideration, and would be submitted to the cabinet, Al-Musallam said. The tariff would take up to two years to change so stakeholders could be fully prepared, he added.

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