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Iran's water market: awash with opportunities

by Slavka Atanasova on Aug 10, 2016

Iran's water and wastewater market presents significant opportunities for technology suppliers and developers.
Iran's water and wastewater market presents significant opportunities for technology suppliers and developers.

The easing of international sanctions on Iran is promising to open up one of the world’s largest markets for water and wastewater infrastructure to international businesses, according to a recent Global Water Intelligence market report.

“Significant investment is expected over the next 30 years addressing the need for new water sources and more efficient management and reuse of wastewater, offering great potential for international and private players in the market,” the report said.

It is hardly a surprise that Iran is one of the region’s most promising markets for water and waste water technology and infrastructure due to the large number of projects planned in the energy sector in the country.

Iran is in the process of re-commencing work on 62 halted petrochemical plants with an estimated cost of around $33bn as well as 36 new proposed projects worth between $35-40bn, according to analyst firm Frost & Sullivan. This huge swath of existing and future developments will require significant expansion of the country’s industrial water network to meet growing demand from the upstream and downstream oil & gas industries, as the country seeks to recover from decade-long international sanctions and economic isolation.

Stricter regulations on discharge and wastewater treatment are making the in-house management of refineries’ water supply increasingly challenging. This is generating significant demand for external water management services, with more and more companies looking for fully integrated water management support, allowing them to focus on their core production business.

As well as offering the technology to process and reuse industrial water and waste water within the plant, oilfield service companies are increasingly providing specialised services and consultations to ensure refiners are implementing a sustainable and holistic approach to water management at their plants.

The global water market comprising technology, services, and utilities spanning both municipal and industrial users is expected to reach the staggering $625bn in 2016. The amount will mainly be spent in the treatment, transfer, and disposal of water and wastewater. The majority of investment is expected to come from emerging economies with greenfield installations, which are seen adopting the latest technology to futureproof themselves against another period of low oil prices and slow economic growth. Network rehabilitation is likely to continue throughout 2016 with increasing focus on utilising new pipe materials to maximise effectiveness. An essential step towards sustainability of the region’s water systems and networks would be strong asset management. Companies will also need to adopt a balanced and holistic strategy which covers their entire water supply chain, and ensure efficiency and optimisation are at the heart of planning.

Increased collaboration between government, industry and academia would be required to ensure a sustainable, energy efficient and cost-effective route to tackling the region’s worsening water crisis, according to a recent report by Gulf Intelligence (GI). The report, which focuses on water scarcity in Qatar, outlines several ways to innovate and improve industrial water management, namely by utilising renewable energy sources such as wind and solar to power desalination plants, and by ramping up the amount of grey water and black water being collected and reused for plant operations. The report also suggests that companies should do more in Research & Development (R&D) and embrace new technologies, while governments need to focus on introducing stricter regulations to help curb the wasteful water use.


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