Desalination And Water Trade Strategies For Abu Dhabi Under Uncertainty: An Economic Analysis

  • Marwan Al Nuaimi

Student thesis: Master's Thesis


Population growth, rising standards of living, and the further development of agricultural and industrial sectors are driving the increase of water demand in the emirate of Abu Dhabi. With scarce natural water resources, desalinated water has been a key source of water supply in Abu Dhabi. Despite the readily availability of sea water as feedstock, desalination is carbon intensive and vulnerable to environmental pollutions such as oil spills and red tide. This thesis analyzes reliable and environmental friendly water supply strategies for Abu Dhabi taking into account demand seasonality, supply-demand buffer with strategic water reservoir, and uncertainties such as changing international oil and gas demands, red tide, oil spills, and the closure of the Hormuz Strait. Two water supply strategies are considered: (1) Development of new domestic desalination capacity, and (2) Importing of desalinated ballast water that is treated with waste heat from the propulsion of oil and liquefied natural gas (LNG) tankers on their return trips from the trades. The analysis results show that the water shortfall starts to occur in November 2018 under the business as usual scenario and will be delayed by 7 months with imported desalinated ballast water. No water shortfall will occur by 2030 with the addition of 520 MGD desalination capacity. The imported desalinated ballasted water reduces 50 MGD of new desalination capacity required and 0.55% of CO2 emissions from the water-power cogeneration system when international oil and gas demands remain unchanged. The imported desalinated ballasted water reduces 80 MGD of new desalination capacity required and 0.7% CO2 emissions from the water-power cogeneration system when oil and gas demands grow at an annual rate of 4% and 4.4 % respectively. The Net Present Value (NPV) for the cost of import water strategy is $ 51.18 million and $81 million respectively. With one month closure of Hormuz strait the water shortfall will increase by 7.4% under the growing oil and gas demand scenario.
Date of Award2013
Original languageAmerican English
SupervisorI-tsung Tsai (Supervisor)


  • Water import
  • NPV
  • CO2.

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