Red tape, frequent change of energy ministers delay plans, pundits say
by Omar Obeidat | Apr 01,2012 | 00:06

AMMAN — A group of energy experts has suggested several possible solutions to help policy makers put an end to the Kingdom’s energy woes.

In a study prepared by the economic policy development forum, launched by the Talal Abu Ghazaleh Organisation, the experts called for diversifying Jordan’s energy resources in terms of imported oil and gas.

Indicating that Jordan imported 96 per cent of its energy needs last year at a cost of JD3.7 billion or around 18 per cent of the gross domestic product, the study also called on authorities to take concrete steps toward building wind and solar power plants.

According to the report, the Ministry of Energy and Mineral Resources has received 64 applications from local and global companies to develop electricity generation plants based on renewable energy, but officials at the ministry have been studying these applications for eight months without a response.

“It is important to overcome bureaucratic obstacles and to implement these projects,” the experts emphasised in the study, which came amid an unprecedented energy crisis in the Kingdom due to a halt in natural gas supplies from Egypt.

The report also calls for expanding natural gas exploration at the Risheh field in the east of the country and urges companies to redouble their efforts in extracting oil shale.

With regard to the Kingdom’s controversial plans to construct a nuclear power plant, the experts called on authorities to ensure that the Kingdom has sufficient quantities of uranium and to study water availability and environmental effects before implementing the plan.

The report also tackled the issue of imported oil and gas, stressing the need to diversify import sources and to increase storage capacity so that the country can live on reserves for four to six months.

Emphasising the importance of establishing permanent storage stations for gas in the port city of Aqaba, the report called on decision makers to consider immediately renting a ship as a temporary solution until the proposed storage stations are ready.

Although the report pointed out that a long-term energy strategy was launched in 2007, it criticised the way consecutive governments have handled the sector over the past two decades.

Since the energy ministry was established 26 years ago, a total of 19 ministers have assumed the post since then, a situation that resulted in confusion and delays in plans to address the sector’s challenges, the study noted.

The experts called for drafting policies to ration energy consumption, suggesting the removal of taxes and customs duties on energy-efficient devices, in addition to expanding the use of solar heaters, adopting green building codes, and reducing electricity rates for industrial establishments that consume less energy.