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MENAFN - Jordan Times - 26/10/2009

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(MENAFN - Jordan Times) The Kingdom will tap its natural gas reserves to meet rising energy needs under agreements signed by the government and British Petroleum (BP) on Sunday.

Four agreements were signed between BP, the government and the National Petroleum Company (NPC) at the Prime Ministry yesterday to open up the Risheh natural gas field in the east of the Kingdom.

In the first phase of the project, according to the agreement, BP will spend three to four years exploring the area, a plot measuring around 7,000 square kilometres along the Jordanian-Iraqi border, at an estimated cost of 237 million.

If proven economically feasible, BP will then provide 8-10 billion in investment in hopes of extracting 330 million cubic feet (mcf) of gas from the field per day, with the potential of producing 1 billion cubic feet daily.

During the signing ceremony, attended by Prime Minister Nader Dahabi and BP Chief of Exploration Michael Daly, Minister of Energy and Mineral Resources Khaldoun Qteishat noted that the largest known natural gas field in the Kingdom currently produces around 21mcf of natural gas per day.

Under the first phase, the NPC and BP aim to increase the daily capacity of the gas field, some 360 kilometres east of Amman, to 50mcf within three years.

The government will receive 50 per cent of the output generated by the project, with the other half going to BP and the National Petroleum Company, NPC head Fayez Suheimat said during the signing, according to the Jordan News Agency, Petra.

If developments go according to plan, Jordan will become an energy exporter, Petra quoted Qteishat as saying.

The agreement, which was 18 months in the making, is expected to go before the Lower House for approval in the next ordinary session.

Discovered in 1989, the Risheh gas field has been producing around 18mcf of natural gas daily over the last decade.

Recent discoveries have raised the existing 20 wells' production to around 21mcf per day to fuel the Risheh Power Plant.

The development of the Risheh gas field is seen as essential to the revised national energy strategy, under which natural gas is to account for 29 per cent of the Kingdom's energy needs.

Jordan currently imports 96 per cent of its energy needs at a cost of around one-fifth of its gross domestic product.

By Taylor Luck

 






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