(MENAFN - Jordan Times) An Estonian-Jordanian firm is set to pump the first ever commercially viable barrels of Jordanian oil shale this year.
Jordan Oil Shale Energy (JOSE) revealed on Tuesday that the firm was scheduled to bring the first commercially-viable Jordanian oil share to the surface in the central region of Attarat this September.
During an international oil shale conference on the shores of the Dead Sea, the Estonian-Jordanian joint venture announced the move as part of the first step of a 44-year-project expected to produce up to 35,000 tonnes of oil shale per day.
In parallel with its oil exploration efforts, the firm is in ongoing negotiations with the National Electric Power Company for the construction of an oil shale-fuelled power plant with a 500 Megawatt (MW) capacity: nearly 20 per cent of the Kingdom's current grid capacity.
The plant, to be constructed in the Attarat region some 110 kilometres south of Amman, is to run on locally produced oil shale and has the potential to slash the annual national energy bill by some 515 million, JOSE claims.
The Estonian-Jordanian project marks the first in a series of developments to tap the Kingdom's estimated 40 billion ton-oil shale reserves.
In addition to JOSE, London-based Karak International Oil is set to extract oil shale in the southern region of Lejjun while Royal Dutch Shell is exploring potential reserves in the northern badia. These projects are expected to produce some 20,000 and 40,000 tonnes of oil per day respectively.
Brazilian firm Petrobras is also carrying out oil shale exploration in the central region, while a Chinese firm is set to build one of the world's largest oil shale-fuelled power plants, a 900MW structure, in southern Jordan.
Amman has singled out oil shale as key to weaning the country off of costly energy imports, with the resource to account for 14 per cent of the national energy mix by the end of the decade.
Disruptions in Egyptian gas supplies, the Kingdom's main energy source, has pushed the national energy bill to over JD4 billion, with ministry forecasts indicating that the ongoing unreliability of this key energy source is expected to cost the country an additional JD1.7 billion by the end of the year.