SDL building largest desalination plant in Israel

JERUSALEM, Jan 16 (Reuters) - SDL Desalination Ltd said on Sunday it began construction of the world’s largest reverse osmosis desalination plant, hoping to alleviate the country’s water shortage. The group said the new plant in central Israel will produce 150 million cubic metres of water each year, or about a fifth of household water consumption in Israel, and will be finished in 2013.

SDL is 51 percent owned by IDE Technologies and 49 percent by Hutchison Water, a unit of Hong Kong group Hutchison Whampoa 0013.HK.

Israeli conglomerate Delek Group DELKG.TA owns 50 percent of IDE, with the other half owned by fertiliser maker Israel Chemicals ICL.TA.

The group said in a statement the plant will produce water at a cost of around 2.01 shekels (57 cents) per cubic metre.

Currently, the largest reverse osmosis plant -- a technology that requires less energy to desalinate sea water and is friendlier to the environment than thermal-based systems -- is in the northern Israeli city of Hadera. It produces 127 million cubic metres of water annually. (Writing by Ari Rabinovitch; Editing by David Holmes)