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King Abdullah gets Rosh Hashana Gift: Signs Deal with Canadian Firm to Produce Oil Shale: Will this help Stabilize his Kingdom?

by Rhonda Spivak, September 26, 2012


It must be a tad frightening for King Abdullah to sit on his throne and look out at the developments that are englfing him in the Middle East. With neighboring Syria in a state of chaoes, [and Syrian refugees flowing into Jordan], a neighboring Egypt where terrorists repeatedly are blowing up the gas pipeline to Jordan and Israel [such that the King can no longer rely on its supply], and with Palestinians in the neighboring West Bank taking to the streets to protest high prices, [ including th eprice of fuel], Jordan 's King must be increasingly concerned about his Kingdom's stability. What if protests currently going on in the West Bank ripple into Jordan such that Palestinians, who form the majority of Jordan's underclass population begin mass protests against the rising cost of fuel and other goods?

 Jordan, a non-oil producing country, has to import 97% of its energy needs, and it currently gets 100% of that from Egypt. In the past year, however, there were approximately 150 days of interrupted supply, due to sabotage of the gas pipeline from Egypt in the Sinai. With this in mind, King Abdullah has been actively trying to find alternative energy sources which are cheaper than the increasingly high cost of importing oil and gas. These efforts have paid off with Jordan, signing a deal on Monday (the first day of Rosh Hashana) with the Canadian firm Global Oil Shale Holdings (GOSH) to produce up to 50,000 barrels of shale oil within the next decade. [Oil shale is a sedementary rock which in Jordan is mostly limestone. To see amap of where these oil shale deposits are located in Jordan click here: http://geology.com/usgs/oil-shale/images/israel-jordan-oil-shale-map.gif]

As reported in Jordanian media, (GOSH) is taking the initial steps towards a 25-year, $32 billion mega-project in central Jordan to provide the country with up to 25 per cent of its energy needs.

 The Canadian deal is the fourth oil shale mega-project in Jordan, which is hoping to use this alternative energy source to wean the country off energy imports that cost the Kingdom over 20 per cent of its gross domestic product (the project will also likely create much needed jobs in Jordan)To read more about the deal with the Canadian firm, click here http://jordantimes.com/jordan-adds-to-oil-shale-industry-with-canada-deal.

Aside from producing power from oli shale, Jordan has also wanted to produce nuclear energy for peaceful purposes, but this bid has met massive resistance from local activists, with environmental concerns, especially after the nuclear power plant disaster in Japan. Canada has expressed interest in selling its Candu nuclear reactor to Jordan to build nuclear energy for civilian purposes, but there has been opposition to Canada doing so, as has been reported in the Winnipeg Jewish Review. There arer concerns that soemhow at a later time technology could evolve such that a Canadu reactor could be used to enable jordan to produce nuclear weapons.

 
In email correspondence with the Winnipeg Jewish Review, Shimon Fogel, CEO of the Centre for Israel and Jewish Affairs[ CIJA] who recently met with King Abdullah along with other CIJA officials at the beginning of September, wrote that CIJA opposes the purchase of Candu reactors by Jordan. " We would oppose such a move – even though Candu reactors cannot be used for the production of weapons grade uranium (they go right to plutonium and don't use rods)."
 

Recently, King Abdullah has complained that Israel has been sabotoging its drive for nuclear energy, but Israeli officials have denied this claim.

http://www.ynetnews.com/articles/0,7340,L-4280495,00.html, http://www.jpost.com/MiddleEast/Article.aspx?id=284785

According to Fogel, in CIJA's meeting with King Abdullah , there was a focus " on how tri-lateral initiatives (Israel, Jordan, Canada) might be advanced-wherein Canadian expertise in the energy sector could bridge potential Israeli resources and Jordanian needs."

What is interesting regarding Jordan's bid to produce oil shale is that there is no mention in the article in the Jordanian Times, a pro-Hashemite publication, of any of the potential negative effects of the production of oil shale on the environment, such as increase in greenhouse gas emissions and risk of other pollutants.

While the Hashemite Kingdom sits on the third largest reserve of oil shale deposits in the world, the technology necessary to extract this fossil fuel safely is still undergoing testing in the United States. Oil shale extraction is therefore at this time very controversial among environmentalists.

In Israel, activists have continued to fight against oil shale testing in Israel because of its potentially harmful environmental and social impacts, but no such opposition appears to have chrystalized in Jordan.

 
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Rhonda Spivak, Editor

Publisher: Spivak's Jewish Review Ltd.


Opinions expressed in letters to the editor or articles by contributing writers are not necessarily endorsed by Winnipeg Jewish Review.