Desalination booming in Tunisia

Desalination in Tunisia took a major step forward in July with the award of the 50,000 m³/d Djerba seawater desalination contract to a consortium including Befesa of Spain, announced on 14 July 2010, and the launch of a tender for the supply of ten brackish-water desalination plants at the end of the month.

At the same time, the 21 July 2010 deadline was reached for tenders to the Société Nationale d’Exploitation et de Distribution des Eaux (SONEDE), the national water agency, for expressions of interest from consulting firms interested in carrying out a techno-economic study of the 50,000 m³/d Zarate seawater desalination.

The € 70 million Djerba contract was awarded by SONEDE and the Ministry of Agriculture & Water Resources to the Groupe Princesse Befesa. It covers design, construction and operation of the plant for 20 years on the island of Djerba in the Gabes gulf.

The reverse-osmosis plant will supply around 250,000 people and will be Tunisia’s largest desalination facility.

SONEDE has also launched an international tender for the completion of ten brackish water desalination plants covering regions in the south of the country (Tozeur, Kébili, Gabes, Medenine, Gafsa and Sidi Bouzid). The government has received a loan of € 41 million from KFW, the German development bank towards the project.

Around 86% of the good quality water resources in Tunisia lie in the north, and the government wants to develop unconventional resources in the south of the country, by reusing wastewater and desalinating seawater and brackish water. The total installed desalination capacity should increase from 103,000 m³/d currently, of which 60% is managed by SONEDE, to 200,000 m³/d during the next five years and 500,000 m³/d in 2025.