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Desalination Plant of the Year: Shortlist

For the desalination plant, commissioned during 2018, that represents the most impressive technical or ecologically sustainable achievement in the industry.

Shortlisted Nominees


Barka 4 IWP, Oman

What is it?

A $314 million privately financed SWRO desalination plant in Oman, supplying 281,000m3/d water under a 20-year build-own-operate to the country’s national offtaker, the Oman Power and Water Procurement Company.

What has it done?

The project is owned and was delivered by Barka Desalination Company, a consortium comprising Itochu (36%), Suez (27%), Engie (27%) and WJ Towell (10%) design, EPC work and operations are the responsibility of Suez, which also supplied DAF pretreatment systems and sand filters. Flowserve provided DWEER energy recovery devices. Pressure vessels were supplied by Protec Ariwasa.

What makes it special?

With more than 2,000 people working on the project at peak times, Barka 4 represented a massive engineering challenge. The successful delivery came in less than 30 months after construction started, a staggering achievement for a project of this scale and a boon for the struggle against Oman’s ongoing water shortage.

The plant claims a record low electrical energy consumption for a facility of its size thanks to the ultra-modern energy recovery process integrated in the design, thus offering more energy efficiency than the current state-of-the-art desalination systems, a crucial issue at a time when the energy mix in the region is under more scrutiny and more pressure than ever.


As the largest reverse osmosis plant yet to be built in the Sultanate, Barka 4 is a majestic tribute to the success of the technology, and a new high point for desalination in the country. At a time when national finances are coming under pressure the successful commissioning of the plant saves costs and will single-handedly increase national water capacity by 20%.


Djerba, Tunisia

What is it?

A 50,000m3/d SWRO plant serving the island of Djerba in Tunisia, built with the option to be expanded to a total capacity of 75,000m3/d.

What has it done?

The plant was built by a consortium of Aqualia Infraestructuras and GS Inima on behalf of the client, Tunisia’s Société Nationale d’Exploitation et de Distribution des Eaux (SONEDE). The team will also operate the plant for one year before handover. NanoH2O reverse osmosis membranes were supplied by LG Chem, while Sulzer provided pumps.

What makes it special?

With very little land available at a crowded touristic location, planners were forced to site the plant some 2km inland with an intermediate intake chamber 700m from the coast, presenting major challenges for both intake and outfall design. The construction team turned this challenge into a benefit, pumping the water directly from the intake chamber to the RO trains through pre-treatment systems and avoiding the need for intermediate pumping.

As a result of a client-mandated low flux rate, contractors installed more membranes than in a standard desalination plant configuration of this size, lowering inlet pressure and ensuring that a higher up-front investment translates into ultra-low energy consumption.


The facility runs at an enviably low power consumption rate of 3kWh/m3, a stunning breakthrough in a market where energy bills are under more and more pressure.

As the first seawater desalination plant of its scale in Tunisia, the project marks an impressive breakthrough for the technology in a new market, and a chance for the country to redefine its water infrastructure at a time when risks of terrorism and economic downturn have made the development of the vital tourism industry a more important prospect than ever.


Galalah, Egypt

What is it?

A 150,000m3/d seawater desalination plant on Egypt’s Gulf of Suez coast, serving households and industries in a fast-growing tourist-focused development area, and forming a key part of the Egyptian government’s attempts to secure the national water supply.

What has it done?

The plant was designed and built by a consortium comprising UAE-headquartered Metito and Egyptian firm Orascom Construction, on behalf of the client, the Armed Forces Engineering Authority. NanoH2O RO membranes were supplied by LG Chem. The plant will be operated by Metito for a year before handover to the client.

What makes it special?

As the largest desalination facility to date to be built in Egypt, the facility marks a stunning breakthrough for one of the world’s fastest-growing desal markets at an incredibly delicate time for national water resources. With international disputes ongoing over access to water from the Nile, the project eliminates the high cost and energy burden of transporting river water to the coast and secures supplies for the development of a nationally vital strategic touristic and residential destination.

The location chosen for the project represented a major technical challenge for construction, being situated near to a regular flood site, and requiring the need to dig deep to install seawater intake pipes under a major road. In addition, desalinated water needs to be lifted from coast level to storage tanks beyond nearby mountains.


The successful delivery of the project marks a major achievement for the contracting team.

With water supply issues presenting a looming crisis in Egypt, time was of the essence for delivering the plant. By surpassing the timetable set in the contract and producing water within 16 months of construction compared to the contracted 24 months, the team behind the project helped to assuage perhaps the most pressing issue facing the country in the modern era.


Tuas Desalination Plant, Singapore

What is it?

A $153 million seawater desalination facility producing up to 30MIGD (136,380m3/d) water, enough to serve around 200,000 people in the city-state. The plant deploys a dual DAF/UF pre-treatment system and two-pass SWRO desalination process.

What has it done?

The facility was built by HSL Constructor, with Tedagua as lead desalination subcontractor. The client, Singapore’s Public Utilities Board, was advised by consultant Jacobs. RO and UF membranes were provided by Hydranautics and Inge respectively. Further components were supplied by Amiad (disc filters), ERI (energy recovery), ROPV (pressure vessels) and Flowserve (pumps).

What makes it special?

Covering just 3.5 hectares, the plant is by far the most space-efficient facility in the country, and potentially the world, a crucial issue for a state like Singapore where every space counts and real estate is at an absolute premium.

By covering more than half of the roof surface in photovoltaic panels the facility generates a peak 1.2MW energy on-site, part of an ultra-modern energy-conscious design for the plant which keeps overall consumption to an enviable 3.5kWh/m3. Meanwhile the combination of UF and DAF for pre-treatment assists in the prevention of membrane fouling, doubling the lifespan of RO membranes compared to other similar plants.


As the first plant in Singapore to be owned and operated by the PUB, the project marked a courageous move away from reliance on private developers, and a stunning success in transfer of knowledge and skills to the country’s national water utility. It puts the PUB at the forefront of desalination plant development for decades to come in the region.


The Global Water Awards 2018 is proudly sponsored by:

Evoqua logo, links to Evoqua homepage

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