By Taylor Luck

AMMAN – The government is looking to sign an agreement with Egypt to boost natural gas supplies to the Kingdom, an official said on Wednesday.

At a press conference at the Prime Ministry yesterday, Minister of Energy and Mineral Resources and Minister of Environment Khalid Irani said officials have been in close contact with the Egyptian side to increase the amounts of natural gas, with an agreement expected “soon”.

Currently, the country receives 240 million cubic metres of gas from Egypt annually as part of a 2004 agreement under which Cairo supplies Amman with natural gas at preferential prices.

Under the new agreement, the Kingdom would receive an additional one billion cubic metres, according to ministry officials.

Currently, 60 per cent of the Kingdom’s electricity is produced from natural gas, and the remainder from heavy oil and diesel, Irani noted.

A shortage in natural gas supplies over the summer forced the Kingdom to rely on diesel and heavy oil for 80 per cent of the country’s electricity generation, Irani said, noting that Egypt has faced availability issues related to the expansion and maintenance of its natural gas wells, resulting in the disruption.

He stressed that the country will continue to look for alternative sources of natural gas, both within the Kingdom and abroad.

Cairo and Amman reached an initial agreement in 2004 to provide the Kingdom with 2.4 billion cubic metres of natural gas at preferential prices, with an “agreement in principle” to eventually provide an additional 900 million cubic metres.