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Eskom Challenged on Water-Energy Tightrope 

On 18 September 2013, South African state utility Eskom reaffirmed delays to the construction of the 4.8 GW Medupi coal power station located in the Waterberg district of Limpopo province, moving its deadline from December 2013 to second half of 2014 for commissioning the first turbine units. The plant already missed several key milestones in 2011-2012 due to labor unrest, faulty welding, and systems defects for controls and instrumentation and is facing additional water supply constraints from the outset.

Eskom received a US$3.75 billion loan from the World Bank in April 2010, contingent on its inclusion of Flue Gas Desulphurization (FGD) to comply with the lender´s environmental standards. Medupi is projected to consume nearly 25 million m3 of water annually when fully on-line with FGD. Eskom has sought to postpone FGD installation due to water shortages.

IWPs Eyeing Chile Desalination Sector 

On 3 October 2013, Chile-based AES Gener announced plans to issue debt to support increased investment in its core power business activities and an expansion into water desalination. AES Gener, an IPP, 71% owned by US-based AES Corporation with a presence in Chile, Argentina, and Colombia, is the largest thermal generator and second largest electricity generator in Chile, operating 21% of the country’s total generating capacity with 2,858 MW thermal and 271 MW hydro power.

Earlier in the year, on 26 July 2013, BHP Billiton and Rio Tinto announced a US$3 billion investment for the construction of a 216,000 m3/d desalination plant to serve the Escondida, Chile copper mine expansion. The Escondida mine will be the first to have 100% of its water needs met through desalination. Construction is expected to begin in 2013 and conclude in 2017. Doosan has been contracted to construct the plant and Degrémont provided Escondida’s first desalination system (45,360 m3/d) that went online in 2012. Both the desalination plant and mine are owned and operated by BHP Billiton (57.4%), Rio Tinto (30%), and JECO Corporation (10%). Escondida, located southeast of Antofagasta at 3,100 meters above sea level, is the largest copper mine in Chile.

Arab Spring Reality Reflected in Water Buildout 

On 20 August 2013 Jordan’s Cabinet announced it would move ahead with the US$980M Red Sea desalination project. The government intends to float a tender before the end of 2013 to initiate project development, which is to provide with approximately 550,000 m3/d of desalinated water. Included in the project scope will be to transfer the water to Israel to defray some of the project costs and to discharge brine into the Dead Sea. It is expected that the project will be organized on a BOT or BOO basis. The Jordan government expects to secure US$300-400 million in grants to finance the project.

SWRO Retrofit Underscores Opportunity for ERD Suppliers 

In July 2013, Energy Recovery, Inc. of San Leandro, U.S. announced a contract with Cadagua S.A. of Bilbao, Spain to supply ERI’s isobaric PX Pressure Exchangers for Phase I of the retrofit to the Valdelentisco SWRO plant in Murcia, Spain. Cadagua, an EPC and O&M firm with a global SWRO portfolio of nearly 800,000 m3/d, provides O&M services to the Valdelentisco plant. Valdelentisco, with a nominal capacity of approximately 140,000 m3/d, was outfitted with turbine ERD at the time of its commissioning in 2007. The value of the ERI-Cadagua contract was undisclosed.

Manila Water Diversifies Southeast Asia Position 

On 21 August 2013, Manila Water acquired a 31.46% stake in Vietnam water utility SWIC. The deal needs to be ratified by SWIC within 105 days. SWIC, formerly Saigon Infrastructure Real Estate Investment Joint Stock Company, shifted its focus in 2011 toward integrated water and wastewater treatment services.

MWC’s parent company is owned by Philippine-based Ayala Group (32%), First State Investment Ltd. (9.7%), Mitsubishi Corporation (8.3%), and the International Finance Corporation (6%). MWC was incorporated on 1997, commenced operations in 2000 and became a publicly listed company in March 2005.

South Africa Desalination Inches Forward 

On 3 July 2013, the South Africa DWA reemphasized its strategy to scale national water conservation and management practices, including desalination and reuse.  The newly released National Water Resource Strategy (NWRS2) document, an extension of the government’s 2012 water directive, projects large scale seawater desalination, brackish water desalination, mine water treatment, and municipal and industrial wastewater reuse to meet South Africa’s future water demand.

South Africa has been recorded as the 29th driest of 193 measured countries, with an estimated 1,110 m3/person available in 2005. Total installed desalination is approximately in South Africa is 64,850 m3/day, supplying municipal and industrial off-takers.

Mitsui, Japanese Expand Global Water Footprints 

In July 2013, Mitsui & Co. acquired a 49% stake in Czech Republic water system operator Severomoravske vodvody a kanalizace Ostrava a.s. (SmVaK). Mitsui’s newly established subsidiary, Mit Infrastructure Europe Ltd. (MIE) acquired the stake from Aqualia Czech, S.L. a subsidiary of Spain Based FCC S.A. SmVaK produces and supplies drinking water to 1.3 million users and owns a 6,000-kilometer supply network along with 41 water and 67 wastewater plants. The price of the acquisition is €97 million. The Mitsui acquisition follows on the heals of FCC’s (Aqualia) 10 June 2013 agreement to sell its 50% stake in Proactiva Medio Ambiente to its joint venture partner Veolia Environnement for €150 million.

Sembcorp Presses Independent Water Position 

On 20 May 2013, Singapore-based Sembcorp signed a joint venture with Takamul Investment Company, a subsidiary of OOC to develop centralized utility facilities for Oman’s Ad Duqm Special Economic Zone. The CUC will provide water, wastewater, power, steam, and logistics. OOC’s refinery and petrochemical facility will serve as the anchor tenant.

Salalah Power and Water Company is 60% owned by Sembcorp subsidiary, Sembcorp Utilities. Oman Investment Corporation and Bahrain-based Instrata Capital own the remaining stakes. Sembcorp is also a 70% owner in the operating company, Salalah O&M Company.

African Water-Power Interdependence: Market Risks and Opportunities 

This full Market Insight is available to Private Water Insight Service clients.