25 january 2017

Interview Thierry Froment

COO Veolia Water Technologies Middle East

Where is this company headed? What’s your future expansion plans? Describe briefly your strategic goals (10 years to 20 years plan)

We are fortunate enough to be active in the Middle East in both the municipal and the industrial fields and with growing water scarcity, water reuse is our top priority. Of course we will continue to chase and execute large desalination projects or municipal water treatment plants in the region where we can differentiate through improved energy efficiency or better value for money for our clients but with our objective of “Resourcing the World”, and with the increasing scarcity of water in the region and the ever growing need of water for human consumption, industries and agriculture, we want to focus on developing water reuse. This is the best way to reduce the electricity consumption related to water treatment. With its wealth of in house water treatment technologies (more than 350) Veolia can basically treat almost any kind of waste water to pretty much any required process water characteristics while minimizing the energy consumption of the process. In addition where our customers do not wish to develop in house the skills to operate such plants (waste water varies much more in characteristics than seawater or aquifer water so water reuse plants operation requires more attention than conventional process water treatment plants), Veolia can operate the plants on behalf of the customers bringing its wealth of operational experience and increased productivity.

Where are we today? What is the current situation of water and waste water (locally or globally)?What are the latest water technologies today?

A lot of the trends we see have to do with reducing carbon footprint, increasing renewable energies and with water reuse. With climate change concerns, there is a strong push to reduce carbon footprint. Although carbon dioxide is released into the atmosphere in much greater amounts, methane has contributed just as much to global warming over the past two decades. Waste and wastewater treatment activities can produce a lot of methane, which can be repurposed to produce renewable energy through biogas, quickly producing positive effects. Obviously, sludge offers a lot of potential as far as energy production goes and it is viewed more and more as a valuable resource to capitalize on rather than a waste that needs to be discarded.

A lot of interest is seen in evaporation and Zero Liquid Discharge (ZLD) technologies. As regulatory issues, environmental sensitivity, and long term water supply concerns increase, many industrial companies are considering ways to reduce their water discharges and ZLD is a great solution. Shell is one of the many companies that chose to implement a sustainable ZLD water management solution, at their Pearl GTL complex in Qatar. Water scarcity is a serious problem in many parts of the world particularly the Middle East. More and more industries are interested in implementing solutions that use as little fresh water as possible, and reuse as much as possible. Most companies nowadays, big and small, are looking into ways to reduce their water footprint and we definitely see this trend going on and accelerating in the future particularly in the Middle East.

What are the future innovations that Veolia Water Technologies pursuing?

The past few years have presented many challenges for Veolia Water Technologies, with a market that has been rapidly changing and we ourselves now need to change and adapt. As Veolia Water Technologies, our wealth is made of our technologies and we will keep capitalizing on them, improving them and developing new ones. Meanwhile, we want to simplify our portfolio of technologies, making them available faster and at a more competitive price point. We are also looking into digitalization of some of our standard equipment.

Another key point for us is to further develop our bundled services, for instance our mobile water services, traceability for specific regulations, digital functions, etc. There is a strong demand for these types of services and we want to better capitalize on that through our local teams. We are still relying on our strong design and engineering capabilities to secure some big design-andbuild contracts, for instance for desalination plants in the Middle East, municipal water and wastewater treatment plants in Europe, Africa and Asia, and industrial projects in North and South America.