ALKHOBAR: SAEED AL-ASMARI
Saline Water Conversion Corporation (SWCC) Gov. Abdulrahman Mohammad Al-Ibrahim opened a two-day workshop that discussed various topics, including the water related operational issues. “More than 90 experts from different countries discussed the current issues and also exchanged expertise with their Saudi counterparts,” said Ibrahim Al-Tisan, director general of Desalination Technologies Research Institute (DTRI). He pointed out that increasing the trust and reliance on reverse osmosis (RO) in the Gulf will result in raising sustainability of desalination membrane and also help protect the environment by reducing the carbon emissions. Al-Tisan added that the workshop also discussed the possibility of relying on renewable energy in the RO operation as well as study the new trends toward reducing the cost of operation and investment. Al-Ibrahim gave an assurance of enhancing the efficiency of production at SWCC. However, he pointed out that the current rate of production of desalinated water at SWCC is 3.6 million cubic meters of water per day and in less than two years will go up to 5.2 million cubic meters. He expected that by the end of 2025 the need will increase to reach 8.5 million cubic meters of water per day, “which means we will have to rely more on desalination.” Currently, he added: “We produce around 55 percent of desalinated water and we need to raise the percentage to 60-65 in the near future,” Al-Ibrahim said. Regarding SWCC’s investments, Al-Ibrahim, said: “The amount of investment we want to make is around SR300 billion in the coming 10 years. Currently, we consume around 50 percent of natural gas and the remaining is mainly heavy fuel oil and very small portion of diesel for the purpose of desalination. The Kingdom is also working toward becoming the first country in the world to use solar energy for this purpose. He reflected on the challenges facing SWCC and pointed out that 91 percent of its operational sectors are Saudis; the total number of Saudis in SWCC has reached 86 percent.