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Desalination Company of the Year: Shortlist

For the company which made the greatest overall contribution to the desalination industry in 2019.

Shortlisted Nominees



What is it?

The water branch of the global engineering giant, which has a installed desalination capacity in excess of 1.7 million m3/d, including some of the world’s most high-profile plants.

What has it done?

In a difficult market for contractors, Abengoa established a reputation over 2019 as simply the best in the business when it came to securing mega-projects and delivering even the largest and most complex undertakings on (or before) time.

What makes it special?

As it moved to the top of the desal constructor lists by capacity contracted, 2019 was without a doubt the most successful year ever for Abengoa in terms of winning the world’s most important desalination contracts. From the world’s biggest-ever membrane desal plant at Taweelah in the UAE to the Rabigh mega-plant in Saudi Arabia to many others, the company’s order book was stuffed to bursting last year. The completion of projects already under way will mean its already impressive reference base more than doubling to a gobsmacking 3.7 million m3/d when work is complete.

The company cemented its reputation in 2019 for not only winning huge desalination contracts, but delivering them.


Alongside partner Fisia, Abengoa delivered the 250,000m3/d Shoaiba 3 Expansion 2 project in Saudi Arabia flawlessly and well ahead of schedule, helping to kick off the wave of desal building that is currently flowing out of the Kingdom.

The company’s confidence and insight into the details of solar power complement its desalination expertise at a time when water and renewable energy are marching together hand-in-hand. As cheap solar energy promises to rewrite the rules on desalination pricing, Abengoa became a driving force in the launch of the EU-backed Scarabeus project that aims to itself rewrite the rules of pricing on concentrated solar thermal technology.


ACWA Power

What is it?

A Saudi Arabian water and power project developer, investor, owner and operator. The company has interests in a portfolio of 56 assets in 11 countries, including desalination plants with a combined generation capacity of 5.3 million m3/d.

What has it done?

As well as cementing its role as perhaps the world’s leading desalination project developer in 2019 with a string of giant contract wins, ACWA Power’s technological skill, canny incorporation of renewable energy and financial acumen helped push the price of water from desal down to new lows. ACWA Power’s growing strength in water has been synonymous with the development of the international desalination market, and no company has done more to redefine the fundamentals of the industry.

What makes it special?

ACWA Power’s unique portfolio and its mastery of the intricacies of renewable energy helped it win water projects in 2019 and rewrite the rules on pricing for the industry. The success of the audacious bid for the Taweelah IWP in Abu Dhabi showed that desalinated water for under $0.50 a cubic metre is the new benchmark for the industry.

The company demonstrated a superlative ability to combine of finance and engineering in 2019, achieving lightning-quick financial close on three of the world’s largest-ever desalination projects.


The fast-closing ACWA-led deals at Rabigh, Umm al Quwain and Taweelah saw nearly $2.5 billion of private capital invested into desalination, showing a company that can by itself drive the fundamentals of the desal market.

The successful commissioning of the second expansion to the Shoaiba 3 desalination plant marked the first time in Saudi Arabia that a private developer had taken full ownership of a major asset with no state involvement. It was a bold sign of confidence in PPP as it plays a crucial role in the country’s national strategy.



What is it?

An engineer, contractor and operator specialising in water purification technology for industrial and infrastructure markets, headquartered in the US, and focusing on desalination, water recycling and zero liquid discharge projects.

What has it done?

The company wielded its unique industrial desalination expertise to great success in 2019, demonstrating its global reach with a series of high-profile developments. At the same time its municipal business made a stunning breakthrough in the company founder’s home country of India, where it will be rolling out a generation of desal plants aimed at drought-proofing the water-scarce state of Gujarat for years to come.

What makes it special?

Aquatech made one of its biggest municipal desalination breakthroughs at the end of the year, securing contracts alongside Indian EPC Shapoorji Pallonji to develop four desalination plants in Gujarat with a combined capacity of At a time when India is rapidly becoming one of the world’s growth engines for seawater desalination building, Aquatech is perfectly positioned to meet that growth and make a difference for some of the world’s most water scarce regions.

Aside from their scale and local importance, the Gujarat contracts stand out as one of the most significant privately financed contracts ever pushed out by Aquatech, showing a company that is willing to back its finely honed engineering chops with financial muscle.


The company continued to demonstrate its reputation as top of the class for industrial desalination with the completion of the Lower Fars Oilfield wastewater recycling facility for the Kuwait Oil Company. Deploying a vast array of membrane technologies to turn treated municipal effluent into high-quality water for steam injection, the plant is a reminder of the importance water treatment plays in keeping industries running.


Tecton Engineering

What is it?

A multi-disciplinary EPC company headquartered in the United Arab Emirates. It specialises in major turnkey projects covering medium and higher-capacity seawater desalination plants, water transmission pipelines, sewage treatment plants and other related infrastructure projects.

What has it done?

In 2019 Tecton made a stunning leap into the top five desalination contractors in the 32nd Worldwide Desalting Plant Inventory collated by GWI and the IDA after a string of high-profile contract wins over the previous year. Its links with India paid off as it snapped up orders worth $400 million there, showing that despite its headquarters in the UAE, the Middle East does not have to be the be all and end all of the desal industry.

What makes it special?

A combination of international contracting experience perfected in tough Middle Eastern conditions and the legacy of its Indian founders helped the company secure the country’s most significant seawater desalination reference for years in the shape of the 150,000m3/d Nemmeli II desalination plant in Chennai alongside Tedagua.

India’s buoyant market for desalination has made the country a happy hunting ground for companies with the chops to establish long-term links and strong partnerships there.


Tecton’s success at Chennai was matched with a similar success securing the 100,000m3/d Dahej contract alongside Larsen & Toubro.

The successes in India perfectly position the company for a long-planned pivot into new areas of contracting and new markets away from its Gulf home. As desalination opportunities in the Middle East grow thinner for contractors in a crowded market, the company is boldly pursuing new markets around the world for both desalination and wastewater treatment.


The Global Water Awards 2020 is proudly sponsored by:

Dupont Water Solutions

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