by Taylor Luck | Mar 08,2012 | 00:11
Flames rise from a gas pipeline explosion in Al Arish, Egypt on Monday. Militants again blew up the pipeline in Egypt’s Sinai Peninsula that transports fuel to Jordan and Israel. The attack on the pipeline was the 13th since the popular uprising that ousted Egyptian leader Hosni Mubarak last year (AP photo)

AMMAN — Jordan is accelerating efforts to secure liquid gas from the Arab Gulf states in light of a Sinai blast earlier this week that officials say cut the Kingdom’s main energy source for the 13th time in little over a year.

According to Minister of Energy and Mineral Resources Qutaiba Abu Qura, the government is moving forward with a proposal to import liquid gas from the Gulf countries and store it on an offshore steamliner in the Port of Aqaba in a bid to ease the country’s reliance on Egyptian gas.

The measure would enable Jordan to begin the import of liquid gas this year as efforts go ahead for the establishment of an offshore gas terminal in the Port of Aqaba — a project officials say will require two years to complete.

“Right now this is the main option we are considering,” Abu Qura told The Jordan Times in a recent phone interview.

According to the minister, the scheme, under which Amman would rent a steamliner at a cost of some $100,000 a day, would be more cost-efficient than heavy fuel oil, the current alternative to Egyptian gas that costs the Kingdom some $5 million daily.

The renewed push for liquid gas follows the bombing of the Arab Gas Pipeline on Monday, marking the 13th act of sabotage on the pipeline since February 2011, which “completely cut” the Kingdom’s gas supplies.

Meanwhile, Jordanian officials revealed that the 400-kilometre pipeline sustained “minimal” damage in this week’s blast, with Cairo hoping to complete repairs by the end of the month.

“Unfortunately this is not a new phenomenon, but both sides are very positive that pumping will resume in a very short time,” National Electric Power Company Director Ghaleb Maabreh told The Jordan Times. Ongoing disruptions in Egypt gas supplies, which Jordan relies upon for 80 per cent of its electricity generation needs, cost the Kingdom an additional JD1 billion in 2011, a figure that is expected to rise to JD1.7 billion if pumping fails to resume in full.

Energy independence has become an issue of national security for Jordan, which imports 98 per cent of its energy needs at a cost of nearly one-fourth of the gross domestic product.

Amidst rising electricity generation costs, the government implemented a 9 per cent raise in electricity tariffs last month, an unpopular move that analysts say risks escalating the issue of energy independence from a policy matter to a political crisis.