COMMON SOLUTIONS TO COMMON CONCERNS

Kuwait 2019 | GREEN ECONOMY | INTERVIEW

Given the attractiveness of the water sector in the region, the Ministry of Electricity & Water is keen to make the market more attractive for possible investors.

Mohammad Boshehri
BIOGRAPHY
Mohammad Boshehri has been the Undersecretary of the Ministry of Electricity & Water since 2015. Prior to that, he was Assistant Under Secretary for Water O&M division. He was also previously Director of Planning Department and Head Office Project Department. Boshehri was a mechanical engineer with the Sabiya Project in 1995. He joined MEW at Doha East Power station as a mechanical engineer. He graduated with a B.Sc. in industrial engineering from the University of Dayton, Ohio State.

To what extent will increased regional cooperation help tackle the water scarcity issues?

The Gulf countries have the same nature and challenges; 90% of potable water depends on desalination. We can proudly say most of the Gulf countries are considered pioneers in desalination plants, which gives them excellent experience in this field. We are currently talking about more than three or four different technologies being implemented in the region. One of them is the multi-stage flash (MSF) technology, which Kuwait has successfully used since the 1950s. In addition, different GCC countries use reverse osmosis (RO), which requires a power supply that can be provided through solar cells. If we succeed in using PV panels for RO, countries would drastically lower their energy costs. In addition, we are now using a new technique called multi-effect distillation (MED) that heats water using steam in tubes. At the moment, these ideas have not materialized into actual projects. Dubai has a small prototype unit that it is working on, and we plan to implement this technique within one to two years once we get the data that confirms it is economically feasible. We now produce over 630 million imperial gallons, and at the end of 2018 we added another 60 million imperial gallons from the new Doha West project. Many other projects are in the pipeline to cover the high demand in Kuwait; however, currently, we are able to cover local demand, which peaks at 480 million gallons in summer, and have a significant surplus that goes to strategic reservoirs. We also collaborate with Palestine to enhance its water network systems by exchanging information either on the technology side or by training the technicians running the water network there. We use the Arabic Summit in Cairo to discuss these matters and find common solutions to our common concerns.

An ad hoc committee dealing with water issues in Arab and Islamic nations will soon be formed. To what extent will this help the region attract more private investment in the sector?

This committee should increase the attractiveness of the water sector in the region since most countries believe the private sector should take more responsibility and involvement in the water and power side. In Kuwait, we already delivered one project, Az Zour North, and in early 2019 we will tender for Az Zour North phases II and III, which will deliver about 2.7GW and almost 100 million imperial gallons of water per day. There is another project called Al Khiran Power Station, where we plan to produce 1.5GW and 125 million imperial gallons of water per day in the first stage. In addition, we benefit from a great collaboration with the Central Agency for Public Tenders (CAPT) when it comes to tenders for power and water generation or transmission, distribution, and related services. With the new Law 49 of 2016, we aim to expedite projects faster, thereby reducing bureaucracy and making the market more attractive for possible investors. Nonetheless, private companies willing to participate will have to fulfill certain requirements before being selected on a cost basis.

How does the government plan to review the price of electricity to make the sector more attractive?

Since 1966, the tariff has been KWD0.002 per kW and KWD0.8 per 1,000 imperial gallons. It is illogical that the tariff has remained the same after 50 years, which is why the ministry proposed the new Law 20 in 2016 that was passed by parliament. We raised the tariff for all sectors except residential, which remained the same. We met with the private sector to discuss an acceptable increase that would not harm the market. We, therefore, decided to gradually raise the tariff and raised it to KWD0.005, which is acceptable from both sides. In summer 2018, we found great results from increasing the tariff as it allowed us to save up to 4% compared to last year.