Construction commences on Gargour Seawater Desalination Plant in Tunisia

The Prime Minister of Tunisia, Najla Bouden, has launched the commencement of construction works on the Gargour seawater desalination plant.

By Chriselle Moraes on
25th April 2022

The project was launched on Friday, 1 April 2022, on the project site in Gargour, 20 kilometres south of the Tunisian port city of Sfax. Also present at the launching ceremony was the Japanese ambassador in Tunisia, Mr. Shimizu Shinsuke.

The desalination plant will use reverse osmosis technology and will have an initial production capacity of 100,000 cubic metres per day.

The scope of works includes the construction of two intake towers, a 4,200-meter water intake pipe and a 3,200-meter brine outfall. The works also includes the construction of a desalination plant, pumping station, fresh-water storage facility and the laying of pipelines to provide drinking water for Sfax city.

The civil works will be undertaken to accommodate an expansion to 200,000 cubic metres per day at a later stage.

Other infrastructure to be provided at the Gargour seawater desalination plant include a 15-kilometre long 150kV high voltage electricity transmission line that will bring the 40 megawatts power required for the operation of the desalination plant. The power line is expected to comprise 40 pylons. A substation will also be constructed at the desalination plant to mediate the wattage and amperage between the plant and the power line.

3D rendering of the Gargour desalination plant. (tedagua.com)
3D rendering of the Gargour desalination plant (tedagua.com)

The supervising agency for the project is Société Nationale d’Exploitation et de Distribution des Eaux (SONEDE), a Tunisian government agency responsible for providing drinking water throughout Tunisia.

In August 2021, a consortium comprising Tecnicas De Desalinizacion De Aguas (TEDAGUA) (through the parent company Cobra Instalaciones y Servicios), Metito and Orascom Construction was awarded a 200 million euro contract for the construction of the Gargour seawater desalination plant.

The consortium will operate the project for two years before transferring it to SONEDE.

Tedagua is a Spanish company that deals in the design, manufacture, operation, maintenance and engineering of desalination plants, as well as purification systems for drinking and industrial water, urban and industrial wastewater treatment.

Tedagua is also engaged on other contracts in Tunisia, including contracts for wastewater treatment plants in the cities of Bizerte and Nabeul.

Metito is a provider of intelligent water management solutions with operations covering three business areas: design and build, speciality chemicals, and utilities. The company is headquartered in Abu Dhabi, United Arab Emirates.

Orascom Construction PLC is an engineering, procurement and construction contractor headquartered in Cairo, Egypt. 

The electrical installations will be undertaken by the Tunisian Company of Electricity and Gas (STEG), an electrical and gas distribution company.

The project was originally scheduled to commence at the end of July 2020, but faced delays that pushed back the start of construction.

The entire duration of the Gargour seawater desalination plant project is expected to be 54 months (four and a half years), which includes two years of operations and maintenance, at which point the project will be handed over to SONEDE. The seawater desalination plant is expected to be completed and handed over by 2026.

The project is being funded by a loan from the Japanese Government through the Japan International Cooperation Agency (JICA), which is repayable over 25 years with a seven year grace period.

Speaking at the ceremony to launch the commencement of construction works on the project, the Tunisian Prime Minister stated that the project will provide good quality drinking water and improve the living conditions of 900,000 inhabitants as well as boost the economic dynamics in the region. The Prime Minister acknowledged the delay to the start of construction works for the desalination plant, and said this would be rectified by speeding up the implementation phase which will be limited to two years.

“Tunisia is opting for water desalination as part of its vision of sustainable and integrated development. We are also seeking to rationalise the use of natural resources amid the challenges of climate change and water scarcity”, said the Prime Minister.

The Prime Minister added that “Despite the strategy to mobilise water resources put in place by Tunisia, the water situation is still fragile, particularly in the country’s central and southern regions where water scarcity is common and known for its poor quality and high salinity”.

Also speaking at the construction launching ceremony, Shimizu Shinsuke, the Japanese ambassador in Tunisia, emphasized the importance of Tunisia – Japanese relations and described the desalination plant as a major force in combating water stress in Tunisia.

Speaking further, Ambassador Shimizu Shinsuke said "Japan is willing to continue cooperation with Tunisia in the fields of agriculture, water resource mobilisation and in funding water projects, particularly in Sidi Salem dam development project, which aims to increase water storage capacity by making use of Japanese technology".

Top Photo: Stock Photo of Water Desalination Plant (Irahel8 | Dreamstime)

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