Dow puts faith in RO for new Saudi venture

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The US chemical company is using reverse osmosis to kick-start its new manufacturing park in the industrial city of Jubail. It is a sign of faith that the membrane desalination market in the Middle East is set to grow.

 Global chemical giant Dow has given the Middle Eastern desal market a boost by choosing its FilmTec membrane line as the first technology to be produced at a new manufacturing centre in the industrial park it is developing in Saudi Arabia in partnership with Aramco.

The $20 billion Sadara joint venture recently announced between Dow and the national oil company will construct a massive petrochemicals complex in Jubail, on the east coast of the Kingdom, one of the largest of its type in the world.
Part of the development will involve the creation of a manufacturing centre for spin-off products from the petrochemicals industry. The first product to be developed in the manufacturing centre – and the only one to be confirmed so far – will be the FilmTec membrane line used in reverse osmosis desalination systems.
It is the first manufacturing centre for Dow membranes outside the United States, and will employ several hundred locals after completion, which is due to happen within three or four years.
Dow claims a total of 748,910m3/d of reverse osmosis capacity already commissioned in 2011 using its FilmTec membranes, compared to just 516,800m3/d in 2010 and 1,247,685m3/d in total in 2009 at the height of the market.
Aside from the Southern Seawater Desalination Plant in Australia, the largest of the projects commissioned in 2011 was the 150,000m3/d Al Hail Shuqaiq WTP in Saudi Arabia, and Dow said it expects the Kingdom to continue to provide growth opportunities. The Water Corporation, meanwhile, confirmed in early August that it is fast-tracking the doubling of capacity at the SSDP site to 274,000m3/d.
“We are committed to investing for growth in Saudi Arabia,” a Dow spokesman told GWI. “KSA is the largest desalination market in the world, and having a local presence will allow us to better serve this important market and the surrounding region.”