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‘Israel gas deal will save Jordan JD700m annually’

By Mohammad Ghazal - Sep 25,2014 - Last updated at Sep 25,2014

AMMAN — The government said Thursday the state-owned National Electric Power Company (NEPCO) is expected to buy 250-300 million cubic feet per day of natural gas from Noble Energy, which experts said will save around JD700 million annually of the energy bill.

Minister of Energy and Mineral Resources Mohammad Hamed said Thursday that NEPCO is in talks with the American company Noble Energy to determine the prices of gas it will buy from Israeli fields late 2017, expecting a deal soon.

The quantities, experts said, will help slash Jordan’s energy bill that exceeds JD4 billion a year and reduce the losses of NEPCO, which are expected to reach JD1.3 billion by the end of 2014.

“We will receive large quantities of gas from Israel, Cyprus and the Gaza Strip. The liquefied natural gas terminal, which will be ready early 2015, will also boost our reserves of gas,” said the minister at a meeting held by EDAMA Association under the title “The Alternatives of Resolving Gas Shortages in Jordan”.

“All the large quantities of gas we will receive will not only be used for power generation; we will encourage industries to use gas to increase their competitiveness,” the minister said.

Early this month, NEPCO signed a letter of intent with Noble Energy, which owns 39 per cent of the Leviathan natural gas field in Israel, to buy gas over a period of 15 years and at a total cost of $15 billion. The purchase agreement is expected to be signed in November.

Lawmakers at the EDAMA event warned against relying on Israeli gas, stressing that Jordan should tap its local resources including renewable energy and shale oil.

“There is always a conflict of interest with Israel. At a certain point, they might stop giving us gas. Although we have a peace treaty with Israel we remain at hostilities with the Zionist entity,” Jamal Gammouh, head of the Lower House Energy Committee, said at the meeting.

“We cannot look at Israel as an economic partner. This has serious social and economic consequences. We need to focus on alternatives,” said Gammouh.

Jawad Anani, chair of the Senate Energy Committee, said Jordan needs not to rely on the Israeli gas.

“We need to learn a lesson. We used to rely on Egyptian gas and it suddenly stopped and we were in trouble,” said Anani.

“We need political assurance that there will be no cuts. Relying on Israeli gas is risky,” said Anani. 

“Jordan should focus on local resources. We should never be dependent on external resources,” he added, referring to oil shale and renewable energy.

The minister stressed that the government is keen on diversifying energy resources and that it is going ahead with plans to build oil shale-run power plants as well as renewable energy projects.

Jordan is also considering buying gas from Cyprus.

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