For the third time in a relatively short span the gas supply from Egypt to the Kingdom was interrupted because of an act of sabotage.

The explosion of the natural gas pipeline in the Sinai Peninsula is inevitably going to make it difficult for Jordan to meet its energy needs, already taxed by the summer season and the influx of expatriates and tourists.

Whether damaged by malevolence or by an act of nature, the fact gives reason to worry. It could happen again and again, making the country vulnerable or even unable to meet the energy needs of the citizens.

Already industrial production costs, dependent on electricity and fuel, are unbearably high, and there are no signs of a comprehensive, cohesive policy to deal with the issue.

The energy crisis must be seen in the context of the country’s dependence on imported fuel and gas, and the lack of adequate strategic reserves.

With 80 per cent of our electricity generation requirements depending on natural gas that is supplied by Egypt in its entirety, and with no alternative sources available so far, the country is at the mercy of outside sources of energy. That is neither wise nor tenable.

The Egyptian gas has been disrupted too often, because of sabotage, because of a sudden decrease in the amount agreed upon or because of prices that are higher than those stipulated in the contract the two countries signed. This cannot continue without jeopardising national interests.

The energy issue should be of prime concern, if only one bears in mind the fact that the production costs for small factories has risen of late by 8 per cent, and by 25 per cent and 50 per cent for medium- and large-size industries, respectively. That implies higher prices for end products, over and above those for electricity, and the citizen is already paying too much.

Of concern should be not only how to cope with the immediate energy needs, like those for the month of Ramadan, for instance, but also coming up with a long-term strategy to address this emerging crisis.