By Massoud A. Derhally
Country, heavily dependent on foreign energy supplies, expected to import Qatari gas
Jordan will start importing liquefied natural gas (LNG) from June 2014 after the completion of a gas terminal in the Red Sea port city of Aqaba, the Jordan Times reported, citing Finance Minister Suleiman Hafez.
The Amman-based newspaper speculated that the kingdom, which imports 96 percent of all its energy needs (the daily equivalent of 100,000 barrels of a oil a day), is likely to import gas from Qatar, which it entered into advanced negotiations over an accord earlier this year.
Jordan will finalise a separate accord next month to build
the region’s first oil shale plant, the newspaper reported, citing Hafez. The
agreement with Enefit will see the construction of a 450-megawatt (MW) oil shale-fired
thermal station in the central part of the kingdom, meeting 16 percent of the
country’s 3,000MW electricity demand when it comes online in 2016, according
to the Times.
Jordan, which has one of the smallest economies in the Arab world was until recently dependent on Egypt for its gas supply, helps finance its budget and current-account deficits with foreign investment and grants from the Gulf states, the EU and the US.
Multiple attacks on a pipeline that supplies gas from Egypt to Jordan and Israel disrupted imports and increased the kingdom’s energy bill. The government accumulated over JD2.8bn (US$3.95bn) in debt because it had to produce electricity from fuel rather than gas as a result of the disruption to supply from Egypt.
Jordan’s Egyptian gas supplies have dropped from some 250m cubic feet (mcf) per day to less than 40mcf over the past three years, the newspaper reported.
In early October Egypt suspended gas supplies to the kingdom due to increased local demand in the North African country, with Egypt expected to come to a decision on the future of its arrangement with Jordan this week, the newspaper said, without citing anyone.
An agreement with Qatar would make the kingdom less vulnerable to gas interruptions.
The disruption has also pressured the country to speed up ways to find alternatives that would make it less dependent on importing of its energy needs, such as shale gas exploration.
Jordan, which is also battling Israeli efforts to undermine its plans of attaining nuclear energy, is looking to shale gas to meet its future energy needs. 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 40bn to 70bn tonnes of oil shale available in the kingdom, according to Andres Anijalg, project director of Estonia’s Enefit, which is operating in the kingdom.
If Jordan was to fully leverage its oil shale resources, it would be able to satisfy its domestic energy needs and be in a position to become a net exporter of energy to neighbouring countries, according to Estonia’s Enefit.