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Aqaba to open LNG terminal on Independence Day

By Mahmoud Al Abed - May 16,2015 - Last updated at May 16,2015

AQABA – The Aqaba Special Economic Zone Authority has announced that the Kingdom will receive the first shipment of the liquefied natural gas (LNG) via a new specialised terminal, which its investment arm, Aqaba Development Corporation (ADC), has completed.

According to the corporation’s Chief Executive Officer Ghassan Ghanem, the development of the facility is part of a JD1 billion- port development master plan for the years 2005-2030, which is now at its “peak period”. 

ADC’s top executive said the LNG terminal, created to import liquefied gas as one alternative to the costly heavy oil used to generate electricity, is one of four energy ports, including the oil terminal, which is in the “hot operation status”.

The third is the liquefied propane gas terminal, dedicated to receive shipments of gas used in cylinder for cooking and heating purposes. The facility is also fully operational now, after upgrades that reduced unloading time by 50 per cent. 

Ghanem told The Jordan Times in a recent interview at his office in Aqaba that the highest international technical and safety standards are applied in the operation of the terminal, where environment considerations have been taken into account.

A state-of-the-art miscellaneous liquids terminal project is in the pipeline, with tender documents expected to be ready in two months, according to the official, who said that the port will include 30 lines to carry the liquids to “tanks farms” for storage. 

The industrial ports of Aqaba are cited as an exemplary partnership between the public and the private sector. 

The Jordan Industrial Ports Company PSC (JIPC) has emerged as a joint venture between Arab Potash Company (APC) and Jordan Phosphate Mines Company (JPMC). 

JIPC has embarked on a multi-million-dinar project to refurbish an existing industrial jetty, which is operational now, in conjunction with building a new industrial jetty. ADC chief noted that the cost of the new terminal is JD170 million, adding that the progress was at 50 per cent.

A major component in the ports package, the container terminal has also received a facelift. The facility has seen expansion and upgrading, with four berths fully operational, equipment upgraded and storage areas increased, at a total cost of JD300 million. 

Ghanem added that the staff members, mostly Jordanians, operating the terminal have been targeted with rehabilitation and skill-upgrading plans. 

New berths have been added to the passenger terminal, the CEO added, with 100 per cent progress reported in this aspect of the development, while 25 per cent of plans concerning other facilities has been completed. 

The New Port is the highlight of ADC’s master plan for ports. The plan entails the relocation of port from the urban area to the southern tip of the region. 

The original land was sold to the UAE-based Al Maabar property developer, which is building the $10-billion Mrasa Zayed, a multi-use waterfront project, the largest in the history of Jordan.

Ghanem said that the land value was only one reason for the relocation. Another was the need for separating the land use function, avoiding mixed use, in line with the vision for Aqaba. 

The city’s urban part (50 per cent) is planned to be exclusively dedicated to tourism and real estate, while industrial (20 per cent) and the ports (30 per cent) components are located outside the city.

The official explained that such a plan would protect the environment of Aqaba. The relocation of the port is environmentally vital because it is used for grain, which attracts birds, a major complaint by residents in the town, apart from the dust caused by unloading the commodity.

In addition to these factors and the fact that the virtual life of the old facility is expired, he said, the regional developments have made it imperative to upgrade and expand the terminal. 

In fact, the planned capacity of 100,000 tonnes of silo storage has been doubled, a goal that was originally set to be achieved in 2025, Ghanem said, adding that 80 per cent of the project, which The Jordan Times toured, has been achieved. 

The Middle Port is also subject to a JD110 million makeover and ADC is currently tendering consultancy services from specialised international firms to add new berths, taking advantage of the naturally deep waters.

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