The real test for the government

تم نشره في Tue 23 June / Jun 2015. 10:28 AM

By Jumana Ghunaimat

There is an optimistic view for the future of the Jordanian energy sector, after long, harsh years in which the country and its people have suffered because of sector’s crisis; due to multiple, accumulated reasons.

If this level of optimism does not reach the level of achieving energy independence, relying entirely on local sources that are enough for the needs of the entire Kingdom, hope remains that a significant part is sourced locally, saving Jordan from needing to rely completely on the others.

The idea of ​​energy independence is difficult in the literal sense of the term, but it is partly possible. Positive visions see the possibility that Jordan becomes an exporter of electricity, while at the same time remains an importer of oil and gas. The success of that depends largely on the implementation of projects that are being talked about, both those that have been initiated, or are on the way.

But there is also a political aspect to the idea of ​​energy independence, summarized in a central inquiry: Would Jordan be allowed to achieve this goal? In other words: What is the margin which is given to the Kingdom for the implementation of major projects, avoiding crises that has long threatened its present and future, and might transformed into a disaster, especially in the light of the emerging regional changes?

The answer is not simple. But, in light of the initial responses, there seems to be an area of ​​freedom to work on the development of the sector to provide a significant part of the local needs, but below the level of full independence from the “other”. Meaning, Jordan is able to achieve a lot if provided with the local solutions to chronic crisis of energy availability.

Those familiar with the quality of the projects, and the amount of energy expected in the event of those projects implementation would discover that Jordan actually has the ability to put together local solutions to its cross-governments crisis. This is the real test for the government of Dr. Abdullah Ensour. Moving towards self-sufficiency here, actually depends on the optimal exploitation of the domestic energy component. Here, shale oil (the results of the investment in has not been clear yet, waiting on Shell’s results) comes to prominence.

The gas component seems promising as well. BP’s sudden exit from the Kingdom does not negate the existence of promising opportunities for investment in this sector, especially since geological maps show large quantities at the Jordanian-Iraqi border areas, especially the “Okaz” well, according to the Iraqi label, and alRisha, according to the Jordanian name. Official information also confirm the existence of an Egyptian-global interest in the exploration of natural gas in the Kingdom. The most important issue remains the arrival of gas steamer, which helps Jordan avoids fluctuations in world oil prices directly and dramatically.

Renewable energy is another important issue at this level, which still faces various obstacles that need to be overcome before proceeding according to the planned; to arrive at 15-20% of the total electricity needs locally, estimated between 600-700 MW of the country’s total estimated requirement of about 3,500 MW annually.

Revisiting energy sector management techniques over the past decades, we discover weak operations and using simple solutions were two of the main dilemmas facing this sector; why should anyone work as long as the provision of all the Kingdom’s energy needs can be done through the import of Iraqi oil? Why try if the Egyptian gas is good enough?

The most important lesson that was taught by the energy sector to the officials, as a result of the big crises suffered by the economy, is the inevitability of the pursuit of self-reliance and diversification of energy sources, as the laziness of these officials led us to more than a crisis.

The energy test for the officials is just like the Tawjihi exam for the students; without passing it, we will not be on the right path.



This article is an edited translation from the Arabic edition