RAMALLAH, February 16, 2015 (WAFA) – Jordan will sign Monday a letter of intent to import natural gas from Palestine, stated a Jordanian minister.

Jordan’s Minister of Energy and Mineral Resources Muhammad Hamed said his country would sign a letter of intent to import natural gas from the offshore Gaza Marine field.

Hamed made his remarks on the margins of a meeting with Palestinian Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of National Economy Muhammad Mustafa as well as Minister of Energy Omar Kittaneh in Ramallah to discuss the details of a deal.

Responding to a question on whether his country has substituted Palestinian gas for Israeli gas, Hamed noted that his country has several options to import natural gas to provide Jordan with much-needed energy, including importing it from Palestine.

According to Interfax Natural Gas Daily (Interfax Energy), a news outlet that provides a natural perspective on natural gas news and events, Jordan is hoping to close a deal to import up to 4.25 million cubic metres per day of gas from the 32 billion cubic meter offshore Gaza Marine field, which lies 36 kilometers off the coast of Gaza, by the end of February.

Jordan has halted negotiations to purchase natural gas from Leviathan, the largest offshore Israeli gas reserve, after the deal sparked controversy and triggered protests in November 2014. Seventy five Jordanian parliamentarians signed onto a petition expressing their opposition to the deal.

The Gaza Marine reserve was discovered eighteen years ago. It contains over 32 billion cubic meters and is owned by British Gas Group (60%), which also operates the reserve, Consolidated Contractors Company (CCC) (30%), and the Palestinian Authority (10%).

British Gas Group and its partner, Consolidated Contractors Company, the largest construction company in the Middle East based in Athens and owned by Palestinian-Lebanese Sabbagh and Khoury families, were granted oil and gas exploration rights in a 25-year agreement signed in November 1999 with the Palestinian Authority.

According to the Israeli business newspaper Globes, Jordan would import 1.5 to 1.8 billion cubic meters of gas annually.

Although he declined to answer a question about the size of the deal, Mustafa affirmed that it would generate considerable budgetary revenues.

Hamed was recently quoted by the Jordanian Times as expecting a deal would be signed with British Gas, which has the rights to develop the offshore Gaza natural gas fields. However, he failed to provide any details about the gas imports’ prices.

He stressed his country’s strategic need to diversify its sources of the cheaper and cleaner gas as supplies from Egypt remain halted because the pipeline, which had been bombed several times, has not been fixed yet.

“We need natural gas for power generation because it is much cheaper than diesel and heavy fuel that we are currently using in the process,” the minister was quoted.