Feature Stories

Making a Positive Impact in Our Communities: Salalah, Oman

  • Significant reduction in groundwater withdrawal of up to 85% of previously drawn levels
  • Significant improvement in water quality for approximately 170,000 people
  • Economic contribution of about S$150 million to local businesses during construction phase 

Sembcorp's Salalah Independent Water and Power Plant (Sembcorp Salalah) is a greenfield independent water and power plant located in the Dhofar Governorate in the Sultanate of Oman. Construction for the project commenced in 2010, and full commercial operations commenced in 2012. The plant supplies water to over 170,000 people living in the governorate of Dhofar. 

The accessibility of water is a key concern in Oman. With groundwater traditionally forming the main source of water in the country, some aquifers had shown signs of depletion, as well as saline intrusion and contamination due to overextraction. This had begun affecting the country's agricultural industry, with some farms reported to have been abandoned due to increased water salinity. The unsustainable use of water and rising levels of water stress were exacerbated by drought conditions and a rapidly increasing water demand due to population growth and economic development. 

Sembcorp Salalah, the first large-scale seawater desalination facility in the Salalah system, has helped to address these pressing concerns. Today, 85% of the region's water needs are met through the plant's 69,000 cubic metres per day capacity. The provision of a reliable supply of good quality desalinated water has allowed the region to reduce its withdrawal of groundwater, meet its rapidly growing water needs and position itself for further development and growth. 

The local population has also benefitted from a marked improvement in the quality of water. Prior to the desalinated water supply from Sembcorp Salalah, groundwater was piped to homes served by the Salalah system and filtered using in-residence filters. For residents in the region, the filtered water had a high concentration of calcium and other minerals, resulting in health impacts from consumption, a chalky residue left on skin after a bath, as well as sediments on washed utensils. In addition, the in-residence filters also had to be changed every three to six months. However, with the supply of water from Sembcorp Salalah, local residents no longer face these issues. Instead, they enjoy good quality drinking water from a safe source and an improved quality of life.

The development of Sembcorp Salalah's facility has also led to a significant contribution to the local economy. During the construction and development phase of the plant, monies paid to local businesses amounted to 45 million Omani rial, or approximately S$150 million. 

Sembcorp Salalah's ongoing operations continue to contribute towards capacity building in the community. Localisation is a key recruitment and human resource focus. Since the development stage of the plant in 2010, we have actively grown the proportion of locals in our workforce to more than 50%. We actively strengthen capabilities with an apprenticeship programme and through collaboration with technical institutes to promote curriculum that builds skillsets of local youth. In addition, we contribute to the community through a five-year programme consisting of initiatives worth over S$500,000 to benefit the people of Mirbat.

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