The reed bed water treatment facility in Nimr.

In the middle of a desert landscape in Oman, Bauer Nimr, a local subsidiary of Bauer Resources, has now been operating the world’s largest commercial reed bed treatment plant for a decade. With an area of 13.5 sq km, it is roughly the size of 1,600 football fields.

It can even be seen on satellite images, Bauer Nimr remarks.

The plant is a multi-award-winning flagship project for the biological cleaning of polluted water from oil production at the Nimr oil field in the south of the country, with the first phase of the project completed by Bauer Nimr in 2011.

After just three weeks, the plant achieved its first milestone: “We were able to significantly outperform the contractually agreed cleaning capacity of 45,000 cu m per day,” reports Ulrich Emmer, Managing Director of Bauer Nimr.

Construction work was successfully completed in 2019 with the third and final expansion. At peak times, up to 175,000 cu m of polluted water currently runs through the plant in one day, and a total of 370 million cu m water has been cleaned so far with an excellent cleaning performance: At the end of the process, a hydrocarbon content of less than 0.5 mg/l is achieved. Nearly 95 per cent of the crude oil in the water can be removed or recovered without the use of energy or chemicals.

What makes this innovatively constructed wetland one-of-a-kind is not only its size and remarkable cleaning performance, but also the new standards it sets for sustainability: By treating contaminated water using natural flow processes in the form of graduated settling pits and reusing the purified waste water on the surface, it is no longer necessary to use energy-intensive pumps for circulation or for discharging residual amounts into the subsoil, according to Bauer Nimr.

“After 10 years of operation, a total of approximately 1.275 million tons of carbon dioxide (CO2) emissions have been saved – according to estimates, by the end of operations in 2044, it will save 4.5 million tons of CO2,” explains Dr Roman Breuer, Managing Director of Bauer Resources.

In addition to this, with approximately 1.5 billion reed plants, the former desert landscape also provides a habitat for more than 140 animal species including numerous birds, fish and reptiles.

“With an order volume of roughly $600 million over its entire period of operation, the reed bed treatment plant in Oman is one of the most significant projects run by Bauer Resources and we will continue operation for another 23 years,” concludes Dr Breuer.