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Saudi Arabia is offering international investors huge opportunities with plans to set up 10 new independent water and power plants (IWPPs) by 2016 with an investment outlay of SR60bn.

Of these, four greenfield IWPPs will be built by 2009 at a cost of SR20bn.

“A phenomenal demand for water and power in Saudi Arabia entailing massive investment will stimulate private sector investment until the year 2016,” Abdullah Al Hussayen, Saudi vice-minister of water and electricity, says. “There are four committed projects up to the year 2009 with an investment of SR20bn, while another six power projects are earmarked from 2010 to 2016 at a cost of SR40bn.”

The first IWPP, the Shuaiba project, at a cost of SR5bn, will come on stream in the third quarter of 2006.

At least 11 companies have been pre-qualified and the request for proposals will be issued to developers shortly for the Shuaiba project that will have a power generating capacity of 750-950MW and water desalination capacity of 194mn gallons per day

Outlining details of the others, Al Hussayen says the SR1.5bn Shuqaiy IWPP will have a generating capacity of 700MW and 24mn gpd of water.

The SR9bn Raz Azzour IWPP will generate 2,500MW and 176mn gpd of water, while the SR4bn riyal Jubail project will have a capacity of 1,100MW and 75mn gpd of water.

The minister says the government is encouraging foreign capital in the kingdom in key sectors such as power and water and is allocating government resources to other sectors such as health and education.

A growing population and rapid industrial development is creating huge demand for power (growing at 4% annually) and water (growing at 3%). Current capacity is some 6mn cubic metres per day of water and 29,000MW of power.