Jordan finds ‘promising’ gas finds near Iraq border


Amman (Reuters) – Jordan’s majority state-owned National Petroleum Company (NPC) has discovered “promising” new quantities of natural gas in the Risha gas field along its eastern border with Iraq, the energy minister said on Sunday.

Hala Zawati said in a statement the flow of gas from a new well among several drilled this year was “promising” but would become clearer by year-end after final results appear.

Risha, once seen as the energy importer’s potential gas lifeline, makes up nearly 5% of the kingdom’s consumption of natural gas of around 350 million cubic feet (mcf) per day for power generation, officials say.

“It has shown promising results. The efforts had resulted in the flow of new gas supplies that would raise the productivity of the gas field,” Zawati said.

The hunt for gas in the eastern desert area, that British oil major BP abandoned in 2014 after investing over $240 million, has been stepped up since last year, boosting quantities by at least 70%, Mohammad al Khasawneh, the head of NPC, told Al Mamlaka state-owned television broadcaster.

Jordanian officials had long hoped intensive exploration and drilling at Risha would lead to the discovery of extensive recoverable gas reserves, which will help cut dependence on oil imports to fuel Jordan’s power sector and industries.

Zawati said an ambitious 10-year energy plan unveiled last year aims to secure nearly half of the country’s electricity generation from local energy sources compared to a current 15%.

It was part of the effort to diversify local energy sources by expanding investments in renewable and oil shale to reduce costly foreign fuel imports, she added.

The country, which now imports over 93% of its total energy supplies, is burdened by a 2.5 billion-dinars ($3.5 bln) annual bill, comprising almost 8% of Jordan’s GDP and straining its economy.

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