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With global facilities boasting 5,600 MW of power capacity, and over seven million m3/day of water/wastewater capacity, either in operation or under construction, Sembcorp is now present across six continents. In the region, the firm operates the UAE’s Fujairah 1 IWP, and recently completed the Salalah IWP facility in Oman.
“Our approach to the Middle East is one of gradual development – a step-by-step approach. We entered the market in 2006 though our acquisition of a stake in the existing Fujairah plant, and then committed to expand the power facilities which was completed in 2009. After that we secured the Salalah deal and we completed the project in May 2012.
“So we now have two sizeable investments in the region; in two of the more attractive Middle East markets – the UAE and Oman. And, of course, we continue to look for opportunities to grow in these countries, because once you are established, you may as well see where else you can develop,” says Tan Cheng Guan, Sembcorp’s executive vice president of group business & strategic development.
In Fujairah, the group is looking to develop an extension of the water plant to boost production by around 30 MIGD, with an expected completion date of Q1 of 2015. Elsewhere, the rapid growth of Saudi Arabia’s market is proving particularly appealing.
“It’s a growing market, and you always want to grow your business in a growing market. It’s fairly well established, and once you are familiar with one Middle East market, trying to understand the structures of a new market in the region is much simpler,” he explains.
In terms of hurdles to overcome, Tan says that the quantity of suitably qualified local workers could be a challenge initially.
“It’s a very young population and, with the market growing so rapidly, I think that workers with the appropriate skill sets are going to be in short supply. It takes time to build up.”
With India also representing another huge market, Sembcorp believes that the next ten years will hold great opportunities.
“We are aiming in the next ten years to double our current capacity. It’s an ambitious target, but we’ve spread our investments – we’re also in South Africa for example - so we haven’t put all our investments into one region,” Tan adds.