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Jordan, Shell in talks to extract oil from huge shale reserves


Jordan, Shell in talks to extract oil from huge shale reserves

AMMAN (AFP) — Energy-poor Jordan said on Sunday it was in talks with Anglo-Dutch group Royal Dutch Shell on an agreement to extract oil from the desert kingdom’s 40-billion-tonne oil shale reserves.

“Negotiations with Shell to sign a deal to process oil shale in Jordan are nearing an end,” said Maher Hjazin, head of the state-run Natural Resources Authority.

“If our plans succeed, it would be one of the country’s largest projects to help the Jordan become energy self-sufficient, with a possibility to export oil in the future.”

Jordan, which imports 95 per cent of its energy needs and struggling to meet growing needs, has the world’s fourth largest reserves of oil shale, from which petroleum can be extracted by distillation.

Hjazin told the Jordan Engineers Association (JEA) that Estonia’s state-owned energy company Eesti Energia has completed a feasibility study for plans to produce 36,000 barrels a day of oil from oil shale.

Estonia produces all its energy from oil shale reserves in the Baltic state.

“Costs for such plans are estimated at six billion dollars,” Hjazin was quoted by the state-run Petra news agency as saying at a meeting with the engineers.

To extract oil from oil shale, the underground rock must first be heated to extremely high temperatures, and this allows hydrocarbons to be released, after which they must be pumped to the surface for processing.

JEA president Wael Saqqa said exploiting the 40-billion-tonne oil shale reserves in 26 areas of Jordan “would provide the kingdom with oil for the coming 700 years.”

The kingdom was entirely dependent on Iraq for its oil before the 2003 toppling of Saddam Hussein, importing 5.5 million tonne a year by road, half of it free of charge and the rest at preferential rates.

Copyright © 2008 AFP. All rights reserved

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