If official dates are anything to go by, the 500,000 m3/day, mega size reverse osmosis plant in Magtaa, Western Algeria should have been finished and operating by now.
The original completion date for the project was August 2011 but a fire at the site warehouse during that year put the date back to May 2012.
However, three months after the expected completion date - in August 2012 – and Singapore firm Hyflux said in its Half Year 2012 results review that the “world’s largest SWRO desalination plant is close to completion”.
In January 2014 there has to date been no further announcement on the project completion.
It was in April 2008 when Hyflux won the S$632 million (US$494.6 million) bid for what was called the “world’s largest seawater desalination plant”.
Hyflux subsidiary MenaSpring Utility was awarded the contract by Algeria Energy Company – the government company handling power and water privatisation in Algeria.
The bid was won against stiff competition, including Spain’s Acciona Agua, Befesa, GE Water/Orascom and Biwater/Tarco/Arcofina.
Under the agreement Hyflux will supply 500,000 m3/day of water to L’Algerienne Des Eaux (ADE), a state owned national public water entity in Algeria.
Later that year, in December 2008, a groundbreaking ceremony was held to announce the start of construction.
Together with its first desalination plant in Algeria - Souk Tleta (Tlemcen) 200,000 m3/day – winning the Magtaa plant meant that once both plants were up and running, Hyflux would have a 30% market share of desalination capacity in Algeria.
When asked for an update on the Magtaa project, however, both Hyflux and utility ADE were unavailable to comment.
Local newspaper Le Quotidien D’Oran (the Oran Daily) told WWi that the building and construction work at Magtaa is complete. In December the plant reportedly ran a series of tests and water production could start in February 2014.
|^ Hyflux's UF Kristal membranes will be used for pre-treatment, followed by RO modules from Toray^|
For the membrane supply, polymeric ultrafiltration (UF) membranes will be supplied by Hyflux. Membrane company Toray won the contract in 2009 to supply the reverse osmosis (RO) membranes to the project.
When asked by WWi over the project, Toray said: “All information relating to Magtaa is managed by [the] OEM, and we are not allowed to comment on it.”
Part of the reason for the project delay was a fire at the end of 2011. Hyflux announced that a fire broke out at its warehouse at the Magtaa Project site, causing US$50 million worth of damage.
The warehouse that caught fire is sited 200m away from the construction site. At the time, Hyflux said the project was 80% complete but due to the fire, project completion date was put back to May 2012 instead of August 2011.
In terms of Algeria’s water supply, the project completion could not come soon enough. Water supply in the country is still seen as largely intermittent in nature, with the population not guaranteed a continuous water supply.
German organisation, GIZ, which has been tied to the region through a water/wastewater management contract between Gelsenwasser AG and SPA SEATA, said that the limited supply ultimately means there is “inadequate drinking water quality”.
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