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Sat 23 May 2015 09:39 AM

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Jordan targets energy diversification with bumper investment deals

Renewable energy, shale exploration and electric vehicle contracts form bulk of $10bn deals signed on first day of WEF

Jordan targets energy diversification with bumper investment deals

Jordan has confirmed well over $10bn of investment in a series of deals struck during the World Economic Forum.

The investment, which came mainly within the energy sector, should boost the economy of a country that imports 97 percent of its energy needs, and which is struggling to cope with an estimated refugee population of around two million.

The two largest deals were a $1.5bn deal with Chinese firm Hanergy to build a one gigawatt cluster of solar and wind power projects, and a proposed liquefied natural gas sale and purchase agreement with British Gas, which would be worth $6bn over 20 years.

Other deals included an agreement with Canada’s Questerre Energy to explore oil shale opportunities in the country, and oil and gas exploration contracts with Transeuro and Ammonite Energy, also from Canada.

Jordan also announced a push towards electric vehicles, agreeing three separate deals to replace part of its taxi and public-sector fleets with electric cars and to build charging points at petrol stations.

Speaking on a panel yesterday, Jordan’s energy minister, Ibrahim Saif, said he hoped renewable energy would form “10-15 percent” of the country’s energy mix by 2020. The kingdom recently signed a deal with Russia’s Rosatom to develop two nuclear plants.

Investment from the Gulf came in the form of a solar energy project in Al Quwairah, which is being funded by the Abu Dhabi Fund for Development. Prince Khalid Bin Alwaleed’s KBW Investments also signed a memorandum of understanding to invest up to $400m in airports, transportation and infrastructure.

Other contracts involved investment in IT, broadband connectivity, transport, and vocational training.

In a speech delivered on the opening day of the forum, Jordan’s King Abdullah announced a further $20bn worth of investment opportunities as part of the country’s new 10-year economic plan – ‘Jordan 2025’. The blueprint envisions a further $9bn being spent on energy, with $2.7bn going towards urban development and $2.5bn on transport. Infrastructure, water, ICT and tourism also feature heavily.

The government is clearly hoping that more international investors will follow suit. John Rice, vice chairman of General Electric, told Arabian Business that the US giant was still “evaluating” the new investment opportunities in the country, which he had explored in a recent meeting with King Abdullah.

“We talked about the importance of the pipeline and connections with neighbouring countries and the role we can play in facilitating that. We’re active in a number of those neighbouring countries so we can help.”

Click here for all the stories from our coverage of the World Economic Forum, MENA, in Jordan

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