Amman to tackle energy security crisis with oil shale production

31 August 2014

By 2020, the government expects oil shale to provide 14 per cent of Jordan’s energy requirements

With extremely limited conventional oil reserves of just 1 million barrels, Jordan has one of the smallest upstream oil industries in the Middle East and North Africa region.

Amman is ramping up its exploration activities for both oil and gas in a quest for energy self-sufficiency; however, significant developments have yet to go ahead.

Priority market

Jordan produces just 160 barrels a day (b/d) of oil and relies almost entirely on energy imports, which are a major drain on government funds. The main focus for the country’s hydrocarbons sector is oil shale and, with reported reserves of 34 billion barrels, the kingdom is keen to start production.

Spread across more than 20 locations, Jordan’s oil shale deposits represent the world’s fourth-largest reserves, but, as with all non-conventional sources of hydrocarbons, there are several challenges associated with production. Oil shale is costly to extract and can have a serious environmental impact. The rock needs to be heated to 500 degrees Celsius in order for synthetic oil to be produced. The process adds a significant cost margin to production.

Major oil and gas projects
ProjectClientStatusValue ($m)End date
Central region oil shale developmentEesti Energia/YTL Corporation/NEIStudy6,0002022
Port of Aqaba liquefied petroleum gas terminalMinistry of Energy & Mineral ResourcesExecution1,0002016
Hamza oil field redevelopmentNatural Resources AuthorityStudy8002019
Amman strategic reserve terminal for petroleum productsMinistry of Energy & Mineral ResourcesExecution4002016
Port of Aqaba liquefied natural gas terminalAqaba Development CorporationExecution1002015
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Despite the cost implications, several companies are exploring Jordan’s reserves to see if production is possible. Amman is encouraging exploration as it believes oil shale could offer the country the energy security it has lacked in recent years. By 2020, it expects oil shale to provide 14 per cent of Jordan’s energy requirements.

Jordan Oil Shale Company (Josco) is owned by the UK/Dutch Shell and was formed in 2009 to establish the commercial viability of Jordan’s oil shale deposits. The company has a large concession that covers the Azraq and Al-Jafr blocks in central Jordan. As of mid-2014, the commercial potential of the oil shale reserves had yet to be established by Josco.

The local Karak International Oil (KIO) is conducting studies at Al-Lajjun, 110 kilometres south of Amman, near the Dead Sea in western Jordan. KIO is confident it can start producing 4,000 b/d of oil shale by 2017, with production rising to 22,000 b/d by 2020 and 38,000 b/d by 2026. It is estimated that the field will have a 30-year life cycle with a production potential of 160 million barrels.

Surface schemes

Jordan Oil Shale Energy Company (Jose) is a subsidiary of Estonia’s Eesti Energia and is developing the Attarat Um Ghudran deposit. The company is working on two projects: an oil shale processing facility and an oil shale power plant.

Minister of energy and mineral resources: Mohammad Hamed

Key contact: Jordan Oil Shale Company (Josco)

Tel: (+962) 6 580 6333


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