The Jazan Economic City in Saudi Arabia includes a combined cycle power plant operated by Saudi Aramco. To meet the water demands of the facility, a desalination plant was built nearby. The Jazan desalination plant is the only operation of its kind to directly serve the oil & gas industry.

Valve selection critical to desalination

Saudi Arabia leads the world in desalinated water production by volume, both for human consumption and for use in industrial applications. According to a project engineer intimately involved with the country’s water & utility projects, valve selection is critical to the success of desalination plant design, regardless of the output’s eventual use.
 
^ The Jazan Economic City in Saudi Arabia includes a combined cycle power plant operated by Saudi Aramco. To meet the water demands of the facility, a desalination plant was built nearby. The Jazan desalination plant is the only operation of its kind to directly serve the oil & gas industry.

Article by Daniel Sweet
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Mr. Hawas Bajawi is a true water and wastewater professional. With a career spanning some 15 years, he has participated in the full range of water & wastewater utility projects, including the design, construction, testing, and comissioning of sea water desalination plants, sewage treatment plants, pumping stations, water transmission lines, and municipal water & sewage networks.

His bachelor and Master’s degrees in mechanical engineering and his continued participation in training courses have prepared him well for a host of duties in engineering project management, and in an average day, Mr. Bajawi can expect to encounter a list of technical questions regarding valve selection, a stack of design documents in need of processing, or a personnel matter requiring his leadership. Mr. Bajawi explained all this and more in a recent interview.

“As the Design and Technical Manager within the Water Division of Saudi Services For Electro Mechanic Works Company, I have several responsibilities. These include the provision of technical advice, support, and training relating to the routine operation of water & utility projects.”

The main challenge going forward will be to meet water demand while lowering the cost of operation.

“Really though, my duties come down to one simple task, and that is ensuring the successful creation, operation, and maintenance of all water & utility projects my company is engaged with. And all of this should be accomplished on-time, on-budget, and to the performance expectations of the client.” With these primary objectives in mind, the interview moved toward a specific project of Saudi Services For Electro Mechanic Works Company: the Jazan Economic City desalination and water treatment plant.

Jazan Economic City desalination and water treatment plant

Located in the far southwest of Saudi Arabia’s Jazan Region, the Jazan Economic City is a planned urban space with a high concentration of energy production and manufacturing facilities.

The site is home to Saudi Aramco’s Jazan integrated gasification combined-cycle power plant. In order to meet the water demands of such a facility, the Jazan desalination plant was constructed in 2008. The Jazan desalination plant is remarkable for being the only desalination plant in the world to directly serve the oil & gas industry. According to the website of the Global Water Awards—which named Jazan the industrial desalination plant of the year—“By combining seawater and treated wastewater at the feedwater stage, the plant elegantly closes the water loop, tackling disposal issues while creating a new source of water for its blue-chip industrial client. A true model of sustainable industrial water development.”

As an engineering manager for the Jazan project, Mr. Bajawi helped produce all design documents for the site, including the plans for the plant’s process and hydraulic systems. “In this capacity—as with my other projects—I dealt with all mechanical components in the Jazan project, including valves. We were responsible for the procurement of valves ranging from butterfly to ball to plug and globe valves, and we participated in the installation and commissioning onsite.”

“For this project and for other projects involving desalination, valve selection is very critical. As an engineering manager, particular attention must be paid to the design documents when it comes to valve selection.

I frequently experience problems where designers or consultants will suggest high pressure valves in place of low pressure valves, despite the advice of engineers like myself. This is why I review client tender documents carefully with my team, and when we spot places where designers or consultants have suggested the wrong valve type—or even the wrong quantity— we step in before the problem has a chance to develop.”

Future challenges

Mr. Bajawi concluded the interview by sharing his thoughts on the main challenges facing engineers—and countries—involved in large scale water desalination. “It goes without saying that water scarcity in a country like Saudi Arabia, and in other countries around the globe, is becoming a significant problem. As I have seen in my own country, substantial investment is being made in seawater desalination, water distribution and wastewater treatment. But there remains a challenge in meeting water demand while lowering the cost of operation. Currently desalination plants require substantial amounts of energy, and if we are going to make desalination a viable solution to the water crisis sweeping the globe, we need more research in technologies that will allow us to produce water with a lower cost compared to existing technology.”
 

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