By Raed Omari – Feb 26,2018

AMMAN – “They do not want Israeli gas,” the lawyer of a northern region residents whose lands have been acquired by the government to build a pipeline to bring Israeli gas to Jordan, said on Monday.

“I was assigned by several owners of the lands acquired by the government to build the gas pipeline. All of them agreed that they do not want such project to see the light for political, agricultural and environmental reasons,” lawyer Rafat Quraan said.

In September 2016, the National Electric Power Company (NEPCO) signed a 15-year agreement with Noble Energy, a Houston-based company that holds the largest share in the Israeli Leviathan Gas Field, with the aim of receiving $10 billion worth of natural gas supplies.
In January, the Department of Lands and Survey (DLS) published an ad in Al Rai newspaper, announcing that the Ministry of Energy acquired some lands along Irbid, Ramtha and Mafraq where the pipeline is expected to be built. However, it was not mentioned in the ad that the lands would be used for this particular unpopular project.

“The projected gas pipeline will lead to complete destruction of agricultural land,” Quraan told The Jordan Times.

He said that the government has acquired a total of 344 dunums of agricultural land and will rent another 611 dunums for two years.

“The pipeline will occupy 25-metre wide plot passing through each land acquired,” Quraan said.

“This in practice means that each land on the way of the pipeline will be destroyed,” the lawyer said, adding that most of these lands are planted with olive trees.

“It is going to be a long pipeline extending from Haifa to Khanasri in Mafraq.”

Quraan said that the lands acquired are in Northern Shuna, villages of Samma, Makhraba, Ibsar Abu Ali, Al Taybeh, Houfa, Kufr Assad, Ham, Juhfiyeh, Al Huson, Dair Al Seaneh, Ramtha and Khanasreh in Mafraq.

He explained that a 25-donum gas plant is planned to be built over one of the lands acquired. “This will have a huge environmental impact.”

Quraan said that the decision to acquire the lands cannot be revoked as it was taken based on the Acquisition Law.

“But the landowners have already started challenging the compensation values although it has not been set yet by the technical committee. This shows how dismayed they are over the planned pipeline.”

Boycott movements and activists have urged Jordanians not to sell their lands to the government as part of the plan to build the gas pipeline.

Since 2016, many demonstrations and boycott campaigns have been held to express Jordanians’ rejection of the gas deal.
According to NEPCO, the agreement will help save Jordan around $600 million per year.