Sacyr keen on Chile’s desal market, but says framework needs tweaking

Bnamericas Published: Wednesday, October 26, 2022

Spanish group Sacyr is interested in investing in desalination projects in Chile, but there are procedural issues that make financing difficult and there is yet to be a strong push for desalination concessions in the country.

“We're interested because we can provide our experience as technological partners and as investors,” Sacyr Agua general director Eva Jalón told BNamericas on the sidelines of Latin American desalination and water reuse association Aladyr's conference in Chilean capital Santiago.

Under the current rules, she says, a desalination project has to receive environmental approval and secure water sale contracts before obtaining financing. 

“We’re in a vicious circle where no investor will sign a contract because you don’t have a start date for operations for the plant, and because you don’t know how long the [environmental] assessment review will take, or whether it will be successful or not,” Jalón said. 

Sacyr built a desalination plant in Chile’s Atacama region with the capacity to produce 10,370m3 per day of water, which serves the Mantoverde copper mine. 

The country’s public works ministry (MOP) would have been able to carry out desalination projects using the concessions model under a bill that would have also created a new water resources secretariat, but the bill was considered not to be a priority after President Gabriel Boric’s government took office in March.

When asked whether Sacyr would have participated in a MOP desalination concession, Jalón said that the group generally has a very favorable view of public-private partnerships. 

“Public-private cooperation brings out the best of both parties,” she told BNamericas, although she admitted that there has not been much of a push for desalination concessions in the country just yet.

Outside desalination, Sacyr has a significant presence in Chile’s infrastructure and water market, and holds several concessions, including the Santiago-San Antonio highway and the Buin-Paine hospital.

Chile has been turning to desalination as the country continues to grapple with a record-breaking drought.

Subscribe to the most trusted business intelligence platform in Latin America. Let us show you our solutions for Suppliers, Contractors, Operators, Government, Legal, Financial and Insurance.

Subscribe to Latin America’s most trusted business intelligence platform.

Other projects in: Water & Waste (Chile)

Get critical information about thousands of Water & Waste projects in Latin America: what stages they're in, capex, related companies, contacts and more.

Other companies in: Water & Waste (Chile)

Get critical information about thousands of Water & Waste companies in Latin America: their projects, contacts, shareholders, related news and more.

  • Company: Consorcio Embalse Chironta
  • The consortium comprised of Chilean construction company Besalco and the Chilean subsidiary of Spanish infrastructure company Dragados was awarded the contract to develop a proj...
  • Company: Consorcio Inima CVV Copiapó
  • The Inima CVV Copiapó consortium, formed by the Madrid-based design, construction, operation and maintenance firm for environmental projects GS Inima Environment (65%) and the C...
  • Company: Barros y Errázuriz Abogados
  • Barros y Errázuriz Abogados, founded in 1988, is a Chilean law firm based in Santiago, providing legal advisory services by a team of specialized associates and lawyers on diffe...