Minister calls Melbourne desalination claim ‘frivolous’

A claim for a year’s project deadline extension and an Aus$ 1.3 billion (US$ 1.4 billion) loan by the builders of the Melbourne desalination plant was described as “frivolous” by the water minister of Victoria state, Peter Walsh on 24 February 2012.

Walsh was quoted by The Age newspaper as dismissing a formal claim by the AquaSure consortium against the state government for more than 200 days lost at the Wonthaggi site due to weather and industrial action.

The consortium is led by Suez Group subsidiary Degrémont in partnership with Thiess. On 8 February 2012, Suez group CEO Jean-Louis Chaussade said problems in 2011 at the Melbourne desalination plant had cost the Suez Environnement group a total of € 237 million.

The Melbourne contract was signed in 2009. It is a 30-year construction and operation contract for a seawater desalination plant producing 450,000 m³/d with a total revenue of € 1.6 billion.

At the end of January 2012, the project was 89% complete with first water expected in mid-2012 and finalization by the year end.