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Providing Safe and Secure Access to Water Resources around the World

March 2018

Uneven Distribution of Water Resources and Growing Water Demand

In Japan, water, like safety, has long been taken for granted, almost as if it were free. Although perhaps not as meaningful today, when bottled water is everywhere, we still expect potable water to be readily available every time we turn on a tap. However, this is quite different from the situation in other countries.

Most of the Earth's water is seawater. Fresh water represents only 2.5% of the planet's water resources. What is available for human use accounts for just 0.01%. Water resources, moreover, are unequally distributed around the world, and cannot be accessed without first building the necessary infrastructure. This is why water scarcity continues to plague many parts of the world, particularly in the Middle East, Africa and Asia.

Water issues are expected to become more serious in the future. While ongoing population growth, urbanization and industrialization continue to push up global water demand, infrastructure for the safe and hygienic supply of water is not being built at a matching pace. For this reason, there has been growing international attention on water businesses seeking to address water issues especially since the early 21st century. This is in part a response to the growing currency of the idea that industrialized countries have a duty to help developing countries achieve safe and hygienic living environments.

Sumitomo Corporation believes that water services comprising both water supply and sewerage are an important pillar of social infrastructure. Based on this idea, We conducts a wide range of relevant projects in many parts of the world. In markets with economic growth potential, where water demand is growing sharply, Sumitomo has been building experience and expertise in water supply, wastewater treatment and seawater desalination projects ranging in form from minkatsu(*1)-type public-private sector initiatives such as BOOT/BOO(*2) to fully privatized projects. By utilizing Japanese technology for the provision of safe and secure water, and by addressing needs for social cost reduction through private-sector financing, Sumitomo continues to push its limits toward the goal of more global and multifaceted water services so as to help solve water issues worldwide.

Industrial water treatment plant owned and operated by BRK Ambiental, Brazil's largest privately owned water and sewerage company.

Sewage treatment plant in Linyi, China, owned and operated in partnership with Beijing Capital.

*1 Minkatsu:
Japanese term denoting methods for improving efficiency etc. by introducing private-sector operational know-how and financing into public projects.


Toward a Global and Comprehensive Water Business Investor

Sumitomo Corporation currently provides several services such as water supply, sewerage treatment, seawater desalination and district cooling services to over 20 million people in Brazil, the United Kingdom, Oman, China, Mexico and the United Arab Emirates.

In China, Sumitomo has entered into an alliance with Beijing Capital, China's leading water supply and sewerage company since September 2010, and been conducting sewage treatment projects . Further expansion is envisaged for the project in response to the high demand for water infrastructure building in China, driven by improving living standards and growing environmental awareness resulting from the country's rapid economic growth.

In Oman, Sumitomo won a contract in November 2012 for a BOO water supply project involving the construction and operation of a desalination plant employing reverse osmosis technology. The plant, in commercial operation since February 2016, today supplies clean water to nearly 800,000 Muscat residents. The project company was listed on the Muscat Securities Market in January 2018, and a portion of its shares was made available to external investors. The company will remain committed to ever-greater corporate transparency, as well as to the stable and high-quality supply of water resources.

As part of the move toward full-scale involvement in the fully privatized water supply and sewerage services market, Sumitomo acquired a 100% stake in the British water supply company, Sutton & East Surrey Water (SES Water) in February 2013. Sumitomo has brought business growth to SES Water, jointly with Osaka Gas since October of the same year, through comprehensive strength comprising Sumitomo's water industry experiences and financial network and Osaka Gas's operation know-how.

In April 2017, Sumitomo invested alongside Canada's Brookfield Business Partners L.P. and institutional clients of Brookfield Asset Management in a controlling stake of BRK Ambiental, Brazil's largest private water supply and sewerage company, which provides services to around 17 million customers. The company is committed to making water supply and sewerage services available to a larger proportion in Brazil, and to the improvement of operational quality, leveraging Japanese operational know-how and technological strengths.

Utilizing the know-how acquired through these projects, Sumitomo is looking forward to not only embarking on fully privatized projects and concession projects, but also to providing a wide range of services conducive to further improving the various situation of water infrastructure.

Water distribution pipe maintenance conducted for the safe and secure supply of water.

Bough Beach Reservoir is the source of SES Water's reliable supply of drinking water.

Delivery of Sustainable Water Infrastructure Capable of Serving Local Growth

In Japan, water services are provided primarily by local governments. The services count among the world's best in terms of the know-how and technology involved in the operation, management and maintenance of water supply facilities, sewerage facilities and networks of distribution and sewage pipes, as well as in the low leakage rates and the reuse of treated wastewater. Sumitomo Corporation aspires to be a reliable provider of safe and hygienic water infrastructure contributing to the growth of countries and regions utilizing the know-how available at the Japanese local government level along with private-sector technological excellence through our comprehensive capability.

Beyond Japan, water services are anticipated to move toward greater privatization. We are confident that Sumitomo can contribute to the building of water infrastructure in different countries by mobilizing all available capabilities in support of each country's water supply and sewerage plans. We are looking forward to delivering safe and secure supplies of water and sewerage services worldwide, thereby playing a vital role in the realization of sustainable and recyclable water infrastructure.

Interior view of the reverse osmosis desalination plant in Oman.

Related Tag

  • Environment & Infrastructure Business Unit
  • Brazil / U.K. / Oman / China / Mexico / U.A.E.
  • Environment

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