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The proportion of private ownership in large-scale desalination projects currently planned or under construction is expected to reach 51 percent, according to a new report by market research company Bluefield Research.

Total capacity of the desalination projects included in the research comes in at 25 million cubic meters per day. The increased share of private companies on the market creates great opportunities for expanding desalination services to new markets and industries across the entire value chain, the report pointed out.

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The Global Desalination Market Trends & Ownership Strategies 2014-2018 report found that the Middle East will continue to play a crucial role in the development of the desalination market. The region accounts for 64 percent of all desalination capacity installed since 1980. As the method for converting saltwater into freshwater becomes increasingly popular, other geographical areas are set to gain prominence. Over the past decade desalination projects have spread to a total of 65 countries across the globe, covering a wide range of industries, such as mining, oil and gas, agriculture and power generation.

Since most of these industries fall into the water-stressed category, the report predicts that oil and gas companies like Total SA, energy giants like Escom and mining corporations like Rio Tinto and BHP Billiton are likely to expand their desalination footprint over the forecast period.