Red Sea to Dead Sea investors pledge $450 million

The ambitious Red Sea to Dead Sea (RSDS) desalination project that aims to provide water to Israel, Jordan, and Palestine, has agreed investments of $450 million.

Speaking at the European Desalination Society conference in Rome on Tuesday (24 May), Akram Rabadi, senior advisor in Jordan’s Ministry of Water and Irrigation (MWI), said that donors to the project met in Jordan’s Aqaba City, neighbour to the city of Eliat in Irsael, last week.

The total cost of RSDS is expected to be $1,175 to $1,150 million, comprising $275 to $350 million for the desalination plant and desalinated water delivery systems, and $800 to $850 million for the pipeline, including high pressure pumping.

Donors wanting to support the pipeline element of the project, and to protect the heritage of the Dead Sea, have committed $350 million, and a further $100 million is agreed from the US government. A call for applications from build, operate, and transfer (BOT) contractors to cover the remainder of the investment went out in December 2015, with a total of 93 companies acquiring the pre-qual documents, and the deadline for applications is 30 May.

The project’s three overarching objectives are to desalinate water and generate energy at affordable prices for Jordan, Israel and the Palestinian Authority; to save the Dead Sea from environmental degradation; and to build a symbol of peace and cooperation in the Middle East.

The scheme will extract 190 to 300 million m3/year from the Red Sea and pass it through a desalination plant to produce 65 to 85 million m3/year of fresh water. Of this, 35 to 50 million m3/year will be supplied by Israel to the northern governorates in Jordan at a previously agreed price, and 30 million m3/year will be supplied to the Aqaba region. Additionally, 110 to 220 m3/year of brine and sea water will be discharged into the Dead Sea, which is currently shrinking at a rapid rate.

Jordan recorded a water deficit of 250 million m3/year in 2015. It has a growing population and is receiving an influx of refugees from neighbouring countries, including almost 1.4 million people from Syria.

A Memorandum of Understanding between Israel and the Palestinian Authority is being prepared, and a bi-lateral agreement between Jordan and Israel was signed last year.

Construction is slated to begin in April 2018.