(MENAFN - Jordan Times) An Estonian-led consortium announced on Saturday that it plans to invite international firms to take part in Jordan's first oil shale power plant in an effort to begin generating electricity by 2016.
In a statement received by The Jordan Times, Enefit, a joint Estonian-Malaysian consortium, said it had drafted a tender for the construction of the oil shale-powered thermal power plant, a 460 megawatt (MW) structure set to be built in the Attarat region, some 100 kilometres south of Amman.
Enefit expects to float the tender and select a final bidder by the end of the year to pave the way for completion of the plant's first 230MW unit by the end of 2016.
The move comes only weeks after the consortium struck a deal with the government over the plant's construction, and is seen within the industry as an effort to place the delayed project back on track to meet a preset 2016 deadline.
According to an industry source, several international firms have expressed interest in building the power plant, which energy officials say has the potential to slash the country's national energy bill by some JD230 million.
Under current plans, the power plant, which will consume some eight million tonnes of oil shale per year, will be fuelled by a separate, parallel extraction project being carried out by the same consortium in the central region, which is expected to produce some 35,000 tonnes per day.
The plant is the first in a series of mega-projects designed to utilise Jordan's estimated 40-billion-tonne oil shale reserves.
A Chinese firm is currently exploring the construction of the world's second largest oil shale power plant, a 900MW structure, in the southern region, while Royal Dutch Shell is carrying out a decades-long project to extract some 40,000 tonnes of oil shale a day from the eastern desert.
Energy officials have highlighted oil shale as key to weaning Jordan off energy imports, which cost the country some 25 per cent of its gross domestic product.