(MENAFN - Jordan Times) Jordanian energy officials took preliminary steps on Monday towards securing natural and liquefied gas from Qatar amidst renewed calls on Egypt to better secure the Kingdom's primary energy source.
Minister of Energy and Mineral Resources Qutaiba Abu Qura arrived in Doha yesterday as part of a three-day visit to Qatar to explore the feasibility of importing natural gas to Jordan.
Also during the three-day visit, Abu Qura is expected to review with his Qatari counterpart Mohammed Ben Saleh Al Sada a proposed liquefied gas deal, under which Qatari gas would be shipped to an offshore terminal to be built in the Port of Aqaba by 2013, according to the ministry.
The drive for Qatari gas comes as Jordanian officials look for alternatives to Egyptian gas, which energy officials have declared as "unreliable" due to acts of sabotage and a series of delays over an amended agreement between Amman and Cairo.
Meanwhile, the government has renewed calls on Cairo to ensure the protection of the Arab Gas Pipeline, which has been a continued target of attacks despite a series of arrests and a recent boost in security in the Sinai Peninsula.
According to Minister of State for Media Affairs and Communications Rakan Majali, the government offered to provide assistance to Egypt to better protect the gas line, which has been the target of 10 separate acts of sabotage in less than a year, an offer Cairo refused.
As part of the proposal, presented earlier last month, Amman offered Egypt logistical support and surveillance equipment in order to prevent attacks on the 400-kilometre pipeline, which also serves Israel, Majali, the government's spokesperson, added.
Meanwhile on Sunday, Minister of Transport Alaa Batayneh reiterated the government's demands for Egypt to better protect gas supplies, which the Kingdom relies on for 80 per cent of its electricity generation needs.
In a meeting with Egyptian Prime Minister Kamal Ganzouri on the sidelines of a general assembly meeting of the Arab Bridge Company in Cairo, Batayneh stressed "the necessity to protect the pipeline according to the agreements signed between the two sides", the Jordan News Agency, Petra, reported.
Jordanian officials have expressed increasing doubt over Cairo's ability and political will to protect the pipeline and prevent disruptions in supply, which have widened the budget deficit and pushed the national energy bill to a record high JD4 billion last year.
Late last month, the two countries amended a favourable pricing agreement inked between Cairo and Amman in 2004 under which Egypt is to provide Jordan with 240 million cubic metres of gas per day, raising prices from less than 2 to 6 per 1,000 cubic feet.
According to experts, the insecurity of Egyptian gas supplies has transformed the issue of energy independence from a policy matter to an issue of national security for Jordan, which imports 98 per cent of its energy needs.