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Potash company says no talks under way with Israeli peer over gas supplies
By Omar Obeidat - Feb 20,2013 - Last updated at Feb 20,2013
AMMAN – Jordan’s sole potash producer on Wednesday denied that the company was in talks with Israeli firms on importing natural gas.
Chairman of the Arab Potash Company (APC) Jamal Sarayreh said in a statement to The Jordan Times that the company has not made any contact with Israeli potash company or any firm in Tel Aviv to import natural gas in a bid to cut production costs.
Sarayreh noted, however, that the company’s Canadian strategic partner is currently looking to import natural gas from “any country” to reduce production costs, estimated at $240 per tonne, while the cost to produce potash in Russia or Belarus is around $83 per tonne.
The APC chief said that the firm had talks with Egypt’s Al Fajr gas company some four years ago but due to gas shortages in Egypt, the negotiations reached a dead end.
The Canadian partner is currently discussing the gas issue with an American company, Sarayreh said, indicating that both sides have not reached an agreement in terms of prices, quantities or delivery.
Sarayreh’s remarks contradict a statement issued by the Ministry of Energy and Mineral Resources two days ago, which said that contacts are currently under way between APC and its counterpart in Israel, through a US company, on the possibility of importing natural gas produced in the Dead Sea area.
The ministry said the fuel would be inexpensive and clean and would be used by APC factories at the Dead Sea.
Reports about APC’s alleged intentions to import gas from Israel have angered the Islamist-dominated professional associations and anti-normalisation groups, which reject trade ties with Tel Aviv.
President of Professional Associations Council Mahmoud Abu Ghanimeh sent a letter to Sarayreh urging him to halt any talks that might be under way with Israeli firms.
In his letter, a copy of which was e-mailed to The Jordan Times, Abu Ghanimeh said that cooperating with Israeli firms would contribute to opening new opportunities for the “Zionist Entity”, which is committing crimes against Palestinians.
Because of higher payments for energy, electricity, water and manpower, Arab Potash Company (APC) is now among the world producers with highest production costs, according to the firm's 58th annual report.
The US-based Noble Energy will provide the Arab Potash Company (APC) with two billion cubic metres of natural gas at preferential prices under a $771 million agreement signed between the two sides on Wednesday.
Arab Potash Company (APC) will be distributing cash dividends to shareholders at a rate of 150 per cent as authorised by a general assembly meeting this week.
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