Companies will be invited to submit proposals for the explor-ation and use of oil shale reserves in the Attarat Umm Ghudran, in the centre of the kingdom.

Up to five blocks of 12-15 square kilometres will be on offer.

The Attarat Umm Ghudran field covers a total area of 226 sq km and is estimated to hold 10.4 billion tonnes of oil shale reserves.

The latest round follows the signing of memorandums of understanding with four groups at the end of 2006, for feasibility studies into the commercial viability of extracting surface oil shale deposits.

The companies are Brazil’s Petrobras, Estonia’s Eesti Energia; the local/UK joint venture Jordan Energy & Mining and the local/Saudi firm International Corporation for Oil Shale Investment. The feasibility studies cover 15 sq km blocks, which have been explored in the past.

The companies are due to submit their reports at the end of 2008.

If exploration is found to be economically viable, the Energy & Mineral Resources Ministry will begin negotiations to enter into concession agreements.

Negotiations with the UK/Dutch Shell Group for the exploration and production of deep oil shale deposits are ongoing.

Jordan has 40 billion tonnes of proven oil shale reserves, according to the Natural Resources Authority.