by Taylor Luck | May 03,2012 | 23:52

AMMAN — Jordan’s Egyptian gas supplies resumed on Thursday amid growing doubts over the reliability of the Kingdom’s main energy source.

In a statement carried by the Jordan News Agency, Petra, Egyptian firm GASCO announced that Cairo has begun pumping gas to the Kingdom at “experimental levels” following a two-month absence caused by a series of acts of sabotage.

According to GASCO, the firm will pump between 50 and 70 million cubic feet (mcf) over the next few weeks, following the completion of repairs on damage sustained by the pipeline in the Sinai blast in April.

A source from the Ministry of Energy and Mineral Resources confirmed the resumption of the gas supplies, which officials expect to reach 100mcf by the end of the month, well short of the 220mcf stipulated in a 14-year gas agreement.

A series of explosions on the 400km gas pipeline over the last year has forced the Kingdom’s power plants onto heavy oil and diesel reserves, a shift that cost the country JD1 billion in 2011 and is forecast to reach JD1.7 billion this year.

The resumption of gas supplies will not curtail Amman’s efforts to secure additional energy sources, the source said, confirming that Amman is continuing negotiations with Qatar and Iraq over the import of liquefied and natural gas.

“There are still many doubts over Egyptian authorities’ ability to protect the pipeline and their willingness to abide by the agreement,” said the source, who spoke on condition of anonymity because he was not authorised to speak to the press.

According to the source, energy officials are prioritising the development of the Risheh gas fields, located near the Jordanian-Iraqi border, indicating that if exploration results continue to prove promising, Amman may break off its negotiations with Doha.

“There is a strong push to develop local resources and avoid any long-term energy agreements if possible,” the source added.

In previous statements, former energy minister Qutaiba Abu Qura said initial exploration of a single Risheh well showed that it could produce 20mcf per day, a quantity energy officials expect to raise the oil field’s daily production from 18mcf to 50mcf within the next three months.

The project, being carried out by British Petroleum, is to produce 330mcf by the end of 2018, a level energy officials expect to reach 1.1 billion cubic feet.