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Jordan bit hard by energy crisis

headlights on a dark highway

In the long run, Jordan hopes to find oil sale and natural gas reserves large enough to reduce its dependence

April 4, 2013 10:59 by



A 1,000 kilometre (625 mile) crude oil pipeline is being planned to export at least 1.5 million bpd of Iraqi crude through Jordan and its port of Aqaba to other countries. Technical studies have been made and tender documents are expected soon.

OIL SHALE

In the very long term, industry experts say Jordan hopes to find oil shale and natural gas reserves large enough to reduce its dependence on energy imports.

Oil shale development has already begun with Estonia’s Enefit planning to finance, build and operate a 430 MW power station using fuel from oil shale by the end of 2016. Royal Dutch Shell has invested $100 million to explore for oil shale in Jordan’s east and north.

Jordan’s oil shale projects focus on obtaining liquid hydrocarbons from fine-grained sedimentary rock, and are different from the shale oil industry in the United States, which blasts non-porous rock through hydraulic fracturing and is revolutionising the U.S. energy outlook.

Meanwhile, BP has invested $260 million in Jordan’s Risha gas field near the border with Iraq; the company has dug a well and plans two more this year.

Jordanian officials say seismic studies suggest the field could in 2020 be commercially producing between 300 million and 1 billion cubic feet of natural gas per day, turning the country into a gas exporter.

Even Jordan’s controversial effort to build a 1,000 MW nuclear plant has seen some progress, although the financing challenge means completion of the project is by no means certain. The government is expected to choose in coming weeks between two preferred bidders to supply the reactor, a French-Japanese consortium including Areva and Mitsubishi Heavy Industries, and Russia’s Rosatom.

For now, however, Jordan will have no option but to grapple with an energy bottleneck that weighs on its economy and worsens its political risks.

“We face definitely a tough situation regarding energy. It will remain an alarming issue for the coming three or four years, until some of the projects such as oil shale kick in,” said Alaa Batayneh, who led the drive for energy self-sufficiency as energy minister in the last government.



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