Via Maris, Carmel Win Water Tender

The seawater desalination tender committee decided yesterday to award bidders Via Maris and Carmel Desalination the tender to desalinate 60 million cubic meters of sea water annually.

Amiram Cohen
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Amiram Cohen

The seawater desalination tender committee decided yesterday to award bidders Via Maris and Carmel Desalination the tender to desalinate 60 million cubic meters of sea water annually.

Via Maris, which offered the lowest price per cubic meter of 54 cents, will build a desalination plant at the Palmachim site to supply 30 million cubic meters of water per year. Carmel Desalination was given the option by the committee of reducing its price to match Via Maris's and receiving the nod on a second plant in the Haifa Bay that would also yield 30 million cubic meters of water each year.

Via Maris is comprised of Tahal, Granite Hacarmel, Ocif, Gaon Holdings' Middle East Pipes and Oceana. Carmel Desalinization is comprised of Baran Engineering, Dor Chemicals and the U.S. company, Ionix.

The winning bid is just 8 cents higher than the price in the 50 million cubic meter tender in Ashkelon. The tender committee said yesterday that the price was much lower than projected, with the estimated price having been 60-65 cents per cubic meter. The tenders committee noted the low price despite the land cost, an expense absent from the Ashkelon tender.

The groups are expected to invest $65-70 million in each plant, while the cost of the water the state is slated to buy over the life of the contracts is estimated at $350-400 million. The plants are to begin supplying desalinated water in late 2004 or early 2005.

A treasury representative on the tenders committee, Yuval Bernstein, said yesterday that the tender was a success and indicated the success of the build-operate-transfer method in which the private sector and the state cooperate.

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