By Taylor Luck

AMMAN – Jordanian energy officials have reiterated their commitment to securing alternative energy sources as technical delays continue to stall the resumption of Egyptian gas supplies.

According to Minister of Energy and Mineral Resources Khaled Toukan, officials are exploring alternative energy sources as Egyptian gas supplies have yet to resume since an explosion near Port Fuad in the Sinai Peninsula late last Sunday.

The cut in supply – the third act of sabotage on the Arab Gas Pipeline since February – has forced the Kingdom to resort to its fuel and diesel reserves, sufficient to sustain electricity generation for the next 40 days, according to energy officials.

Following an April 27 attack on the pipeline, Cairo insisted on amending a favourable pricing agreement between the two countries under which Jordan received natural gas at prices less than half the international market rate.

Under an amended agreement reached last month, Jordan is expected to receive 220 million cubic feet per day by 2012 – below the 240 million cubic feet stipulated in the previous 12-year deal.

Jordan has increased its reliance on Iraqi oil, recently raised to 15,000 barrels of oil and 30,000 tonnes of heavy fuel oil per day at preferential prices following an agreement struck between Amman and Baghdad last month.

Jordanian energy officials are currently exploring the import of liquefied gas in light of the unreliability of Egyptian gas supplies, which have been cut for a total of 82 days, and counting, since the beginning of the year.

Plans entail the construction of an offshore terminal in the Port of Aqaba by 2013, with the government receiving initial interest from several international firms including Royal Dutch Shell, British Petroleum, Lemont/General Electric and Al Fijr.

The drive for liquefied gas comes as Amman attempts to cover a five-year gap period ahead of the development of domestic energy sources including wind, solar and nuclear power.

The Kingdom currently imports 97 per cent of its energy needs at a cost of one-fifth of the gross domestic product.