CAIRO (AP) — Saudi Arabia on Tuesday signed contracts valued at 15.68 billion ($4.2 billion) for the construction of a power plant and a desalination facility, as the oil-rich kingdom pushes to meet its growing water and electricity needs.
Electricity and Water Minister Abdullah al-Hussayin said the contracts awarded to a group of Saudi and Asian companies relate to the Ras al-Zawr project, which would produce 1.025 million cubic meters of desalinated water per day and 2,400 megawatts of power along the country’s eastern coast.
Under the 9.07 billion riyal contract, Saudi Arabia’s Al-Arab Contracting and China’s SepcoIII Electric Power Construction Corp. will build the power plant.
South Korea’s Doosan Heavy Industries and Construction Co. along with Saudi Archirodon Ltd. signed a 6.62 billion riyal contract for the construction of the desalination plant, the official Saudi Press Agency reported, citing the minister.
Al-Hussayin said the terms of the contract call for the project’s completion in about three and a half years.
The project is a key step for Saudi Arabia, where electricity demand has soared, driven largely by an effort to further industrialize as well as a rapidly growing population. The kingdom, which sits atop the world’s largest proven reserves of conventional crude, is trying to reduce its dependence on oil exports by boosting industrial production.
Roughly 900,000 cubic meters per day of the desalinated water is earmarked for the capital, Riyadh, along with neighboring provinces, while 25,000 cubic meters per day is set aside for the Saudi Arabian Mining Co., or Maaden. Of the power generated in the plant, 1,350 megawatts will go to Maaden for its operations, while the Saudi Electricity Co. will get 1,050 megawatts.
Maaden, along with U.S. aluminum giant Alcoa, is building what will be the world’s largest integrated aluminum complex. The $10.8 billion project includes a refinery, smelter and rolling mill and is scheduled to be fully operational by 2014.