by Mohammad Ghazal | Feb 14,2012 | 23:09

AMMAN — The Ministry of Water and Irrigation will select a consortium to serve as the master developer of the Jordan Red Sea Project (JRSP) in April, a ministry official said Monday.

The ministry has so far received technical and financial offers from two consortia and will begin immediately studying the offers, Ministry of Water and Irrigation Spokesperson and Assistant Secretary General Adnan Zu’bi told The Jordan Times Monday.

“A Jordanian delegation currently in the US received the technical and financial offers from two consortia that showed interest in implementing the project so far. When the delegation returns, we will announce the consortia,” he said.

Last April, six consortia, including both local and international companies, qualified to compete for the rights to build the mega-project which seeks to address the country’s severe water shortage.

The consortia are Accionna-Mitsubishi, ACWA Power, Jordan Red Sea Group, Orascom Construction Industries, Samsung C&T Corporation and Sinohydro Corporation Limited.

In June, the ministry will develop a plan to implement the first phase of the project, said Zu’bi.

Under the first phase of the project, announced during the World Economic Forum in 2009, water will be conveyed from the Red Sea through pipelines to a desalination facility that will be built in Aqaba. Water generated from the plant will be distributed to the port city and surrounding development projects.

The project entails extracting 1.2 billion cubic metres of water from the Red Sea every year; 930mcm will be desalinated and the rest will be channelled into the shrinking Dead Sea. In addition, 180 megawatts of electricity will be generated by projected hydropower stations.

In addition to providing much-needed water, the JRSP includes an economic development programme that entails the establishment of gated communities, resorts, industries and other projects, according to the ministry.

The Kingdom, which is categorised as the fourth poorest nation in the world in terms of water availability, suffers an annual water deficit of 500 million cubic metres.

An arid country, more than 70 per cent of the Kingdom’s area receives less than 100mm of rainfall annually. Consequently, water is the most critical natural resource, as virtually all aspects of sustainable economic, social and political development in the country depend on the availability of an adequate water supply, according to experts in the field.