(MENAFN - Jordan Times) A Sinai blast early Monday marked the latest setback to Jordan's Egyptian gas supplies, officials say, with forecasts that the attack will prolong the return of the Kingdom's primary energy source by "months".
The blast on early Monday that marked the 14th attack on the Arab Gas Pipeline in a little over a year came a few days prior to when Egyptian technical teams were scheduled to complete repairs of damages sustained in a similar blast last month.
"We were preparing for gas supplies to resume this week and relieve some of the burden, but it seems that we will have to wait a bit longer," Ghaleb Maabreh, director of the National Electric Power Company, told The Jordan Times.
Meanwhile, Energy Minister Qutaiba Abu Qura said officials expect the attack to have a "limited impact" on the electricity sector, which has relied on heavy oil reserves since last month's attack on the Arab Gas Pipeline.
In a statement to the Jordan News Agency, Petra, Abu Qura said Amman has yet to receive information from Cairo regarding the required time to repair the damages sustained by the latest blast.
The series of disruptions in gas supplies has led to an acceleration in officials' efforts to secure additional energy sources, with Amman entering "advanced" talks with Qatar and Iraq for liquid and natural gas deals.
Despite the renewed efforts to secure new energy markets, officials admit it will take between two to five years before Jordan benefits from any new gas deal due to construction requirements.
In parallel with its efforts to secure a long-term gas agreement, Amman is currently considering renting a ship to store liquid gas off the port of Aqaba at a cost of some 100,000 a day, a move they say will be cheaper than the import of heavy fuel oil at international prices.
Egyptian gas supplies have dipped from 220 million cubic feet per day in 2010 to 80 million cubic feet in 2011 to negligible amounts this year, a drop that is expected to push the Kingdom's national energy bill beyond JD4 billion.
In the face of the ongoing gas disruptions, projected to cost the Kingdom an additional JD1.7 billion, the government announced a controversial 9 per cent rise in electricity tariffs earlier this year, a decision it later suspended under popular pressure.