Making its mark

Kum Mun Lock of Singapore-based Hyflux sees a bright future for the company in the Middle East

Kum Mun Lock, Hyflux
Kum Mun Lock, Hyflux

Kum Mun Lock, group senior managing director of Singapore-based Hyflux, on why the Middle East has become a key regional market for the company.

Explain what Hyflux does as a company?
Hyflux is a leading fully-integrated provider of water and environmental solutions. We offer innovative, cost-effective and sustainable solutions in desalination, water recycling, wastewater treatment and membrane bioreactor (MBR), and potable water treatment. Our projects and operations span across Southeast Asia, China, India, and the Middle East and North Africa region.

Our full suite of services ranges from research and development, design, membrane manufacturing, process engineering, engineering, procurement and construction to operations and maintenance.

Hyflux has a strong focus on membrane and materials technologies. We have developed several proprietary products and systems for the treatment of water and process streams that are targeted at the municipal markets and for industries such as manufacturing, electronics, food and beverage, energy and power, petrochemical and pharmaceutical. We have to date designed, installed, constructed, tested and commissioned over 1,300 membrane-based water treatment systems and plants for industrial and municipal sectors worldwide.

Our track record includes Singapore’s first NEWater plant, BedokNEWater Plant, and two seawater reverse osmosis (SWRO) desalination plants, SingSpring and Tuaspring desalination plants, as well as some of the world’s largest SWRO desalination plants: Tianjin Dagang Desalination Plant in China and Magtaa and Souk Tleta desalination plants in Algeria.

Hyflux is based in Singapore. How long have you been active in the Middle East?
Hyflux has been active in the Middle East since 2004. Our first project in Oman was a contract we won in 2009 for a 68,000 m3/day seawater reverse osmosis desalination facility for the Salalah Independent Water and Power Project.In December 2014, we won the tender to design, build, own and operate the 200,000 m3/day independent water project in Qurrayat, Oman.

What is the potential here for the company?
There is a huge demand for water in the Middle East. With population growth, urbanisation and industrialisation, the quality and quantity of the groundwater resources are being strained. Many countries in the region also face water stress with less than 1,000 m3/year of renewable water resources per capita. There is an urgent need for further investment in water infrastructure such as desalination and water reuse so that reliable and sustainable supplies of water can be secured for the future. With Hyflux’s technical expertise and ability to deliver cost effective projects globally, we can deliver desalination and water reuse solutions to these countries.

Which countries offer the best opportunities at the moment?
Hyflux is exploring selective markets in the Middle East such as Saudi Arabia, UAE, Oman, Kuwait and Qatar. These are traditional thermal desalination markets which are embracing reverse osmosis membranes for large-scale desalination plants, and have comprehensive policies to invest in water infrastructure.

You also operate in the wastewater sector. Does the Middle East show much promise in this area for you?
With population growth comes the need for wastewater treatment, especially with more stringent environmental discharge regulations. Hyflux is also exploring opportunities to provide our membrane-based water reuse solutions to countries in the Middle East.

Water reuse is a good, cost-effective alternative to seawater desalination for water-stressed communities which do not have access to the sea. We are a pioneer in water reuse, having built two of Singapore’s NEWater plants.
NEWater is a term coined by PUB, Singapore’s national water agency, for high-grade reclaimed water that has been produced from treated used water that is further purified using advanced membrane technologies and ultraviolet disinfection, making it ultra-clean and safe to drink.

What differentiates Hyflux from other companies active in this region?
Hyflux is distinctive in our ability to address the challenges at every point of the entire value chain of the water industry – from R&D in membrane technology, component manufacturing, process engineering, engineering, procurement and construction, to operations and maintenance, in addition to arranging for project financing of large-scale municipal projects. Our complete integration allows us to optimise our value chain, achieve operational efficiencies and add value to clients.


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