Jordan: Opposition To Israel Gas Deal Strong But Ineffectual

Faced with a financial and energy crunch, Amman has looked to Israel to cover its gas needs. The $10bn deal to take Israeli gas has received local opposition but whether that is enough to see the deal canned remains to be seen.

On 26 September, Jordan’s National Electric Power Company (Nepco) signed a landmark gas import agreement with Houston-based Noble Energy for “approximately” 45bcm (1.59 tcf) of gas over 15 years, an implied average of 290mn cfd from the 22 tcf Leviathan gas field. (MEES, 30 September). Noble operates Leviathan, which lies approximately 130km offshore Israel, with a 39.66% share, along with Israeli partner Delek, which holds a combined 45.34% through its subsidiaries Delek Drilling and Avner Oil. Israeli firm Ratio holds the remaining 15%.

Amman asserts the deal will provide Jordan with 40% of its energy needs beginning in 2019, and is cheaper than alternatives. Whether from Israel or elsewhere, Jordan must find a cheaper way to provide for electricity or face insolvency. While previous insolvency crises had been resolved through a mixture of foreign aid, debt forgiveness and the proceeds of privatizations, by the end of 2015 debt/GDP had risen to 93%, and Nepco’s debt was over a quarter of this amount (see p13). (CONTINUED - 1012 WORDS)