Bids for Jordan’s first oil shale power plant expected in February

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Companies interested in bidding to provide mining services in Jordan's first oil shale power plant have until the first quarter of next year to take part, the Jordan Times reported.

A number of companies have expressed an interest in taking part in the project, the Amman-based newspaper reported citing Estonian oil shale company Enefit and its Jordanian subsidiary Attarat Power Company.

Jordan's oil shale power plant will be located in Attarat Um Ghudran and requires a mining area of approximately 11 square kilometres with estimated oil shale deposits to fuel the plant for more than 40 years, the newspaper reported.

The 460megawatt power plant set up by Enefit along with Malaysia's YTL Power International Berhad and Near East Investments of Jordan will help reduce Jordan's cost on energy imports by more than JD350 million per year when comes into operation in 2016, the newspaper reported citing Enefit. Jordan’s import bill for fuel accounts for about 20 percent of gross domestic product (GDP).

Jordan, which has one of the smallest economies in the Arab world, with no natural resources, imports all of its energy and until recently was dependent on Egypt for its gas supply, which has caused its public debt to soar. Debt accounts for about 72 of GDP in the first nine months of the year up from 64 percent last year, according to official figures from the ministry of finance.

The kingdom has the world’s fourth-largest reserves of oil shale, an organic-rich, fine-grained sedimentary rock from which liquid hydrocarbons (shale oil) can be produced. Shale oil is a substitute for conventional crude oil, and the oil can also be burned directly for power production similar to coal.

Oil shale represents a significant resource in Jordan — approximately 60 percent of Jordanian territory contains oil shale deposits, which amount to an estimated 40 -70 billion tonnes of oil shale available in the kingdom.

Estonia generates about 90 percent of its power from using oil shale, though the size of its deposits are smaller than Jordan’s. Aside from what Estonia consumes locally, the country also exports electricity to neighbouring countries.

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