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Shell sees Jordan winning from natural gas, renewables combination

By JT - Sep 24,2014 - Last updated at Sep 24,2014

AMMAN —  Gas plus renewables like solar and wind power could be a winning combination for Jordan and other countries in the region, according to a press statement received Wednesday from Shell EP International.

The press release highlighted the input of Mounir Bouaziz, Shell’s vice president of commercial and country chairman for Dubai and the Northern Emirates, during his participation in the Powering the Middle East Summit 2014, which was held in Amman last week.

Bouaziz spoke about the value natural gas can bring to the region’s energy mix as a means to help countries like Jordan, which are heavily dependent on imported fuel, diversify their energy mix and reduce CO2 emissions in the long term. 

"Despite ongoing progress on developing its oil shale resources that are currently being explored by the Jordan Oil Shale Company
(JOSCO), in the short and medium term, Jordan is expected to import liquefied natural gas as a bridge fuel to satisfy growing energy needs," the press release quoted him as saying.

JOSCO is a wholly owned subsidiary of Royal Dutch Shell that invests in exploring and evaluating the commercial potential of Jordanian oil shale using the latest advances in technology to produce the assets that would otherwise remain dormant.

According to the World Energy Council, Jordan currently imports over 90 per cent of its energy requirements while it is estimated to hold the 8th largest oil shale resources in the world.  

By 2020 the country expects to meet 33 per cent of its energy needs from natural gas, while reducing reliance on imports to 61 per cent according to Jordan’s 2007 national energy strategy.

“Natural gas is the fastest and most affordable route for many countries to meet their energy needs, including Jordan,” Bouaziz indicated. 

International Energy Agency (IEA) estimates that with a rapidly growing world population, increasing prosperity and improved access to reliable electricity, the global demand for energy is expected to increase by 80 per cent by 2050.

Jordan, faces similar challenges with growing energy demands on the one hand and rapidly increasing power demand on the other, driven primarily by increasing industrialisation and a growing population. 

Beyond the cost and speed at which natural gas plants can be set up; the Environmental Protection Agency states that natural gas is the cleanest burning fossil fuel. Meaning that when combusted, natural gas releases very small amounts of sulfur dioxide and nitrogen oxides, virtually no ash or particulate matter, and lower levels of carbon dioxide, carbon monoxide and other reactive hydrocarbons.

According to the US energy information administration, carbon-related emissions dropped by 3.8 per cent from 2011 to 2012 as the US increased its dependence on natural gas, displacing coal in power generation. 

“If paired with renewables like solar and wind power, gas also offers a reliable source of backup power when the sun isn’t shining or the wind isn’t blowing,” said Bouaziz. 

“Increasing natural gas within the energy mix could drastically slash greenhouse gas emissions — a very real consideration for all the nations of the world. Although there’s no ‘silver bullet’ solution, gas plus renewables could be a winning combination for Jordan and other nations in the region,” he added in the press statement.

Ultimately, considerable investments need to be made in the power sector globally including in the areas of energy efficiency, the development of renewable energies and power generation. The IEA estimates that over the next 20 years, a cumulative investment of $16.4 trillion is needed across the power sector with an annual average of $740 billion per year.

Bouaziz concluded: “Each country in the region faces different challenges that will dictate their individual approaches. Governments, policy makers and regulators will make energy choices based on a number of factors: ensuring security, reliability and flexibility of energy supply. Ultimately, countries like Jordan will be developing an energy system that allows their economies to be globally and regionally competitive, and create jobs while making responsible choices on climate change and greenhouse gas emissions.”

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