Jordan’s government is seeking investments from Mitsubishi Corp., Mitsui & Co. and other Japanese companies in energy projects worth about $14 billion needed to meet rising demand for power, an official said.
The Middle Eastern country, which imports 96 percent of its energy needs, wants investment in its oil shale reserves, the world’s fourth largest, Jordanian Energy Minister Khaled Irani said in an interview in Tokyo yesterday. The country is also planning to develop wind, solar and geothermal power.
“There are many blocks in Jordan that are open to investment in oil shale,” Irani, who is meeting officials from Mitsubishi and Mitsui, said. “We welcome Japanese companies.”
Royal Dutch Shell Plc and Estonia’s Eesti Energia AS have signed agreements on oil shale projects. Jordan forecasts fuel consumption will increase to 10 million metric tons of oil equivalent by 2020 from 7.5 million tons.
“With the increase in fossil fuel prices, extraction of oil shale is becoming more and more feasible,” Irani said. At crude oil prices higher than $65 a barrel, extracting oil from shale in Jordan is economically viable, he said.
Crude has traded at an average of $77.93 a barrel this year and was at $83.73 at 11 a.m. Tokyo time today.
The government estimates that electricity demand will almost double in the next decade to 5,200 megawatts.
Oil shale is a sedimentary rock that contains solid bituminous materials, which are released as petroleum-like liquids when the rock is heated, according to the U.S. Department of the Interior.
Irani is part of a delegation led by Prime Minister Samir Rifai visiting Japan, another country that imports most of its fuel needs, to drum up interest in investing in the nation, which borders Saudi Arabia, Iraq, Syria and Israel.
Irani is also meeting officials from Mitsubishi Heavy Industries Ltd. during his three-day visit, he said.
The almost landlocked country wants to get 10 percent of its electricity from renewable sources by 2020, while nuclear power is forecast to account for as much as 10 percent and oil shale 14 percent, Irani said.
Jordan will open a tender for oil and gas blocks near Irbid, northern Jordan by the end of this year, said Irani. Several international companies are interested in the project, he said, declining to identify them.
The government will also announce details of subsidies for solar power in the first quarter of 2011 to promote renewable energy, he said.
Plans for new solar power projects will be outlined by the end of this year. The government wants to tender as much as 100 megawatt of solar power capacity as the market grows and has identified 15 potential sites for wind power projects.
The government will offer a site for a new wind project within two years, Irani said. Bids are due by March next for the $150 million Fejeij wind farm.
Japan and Jordan signed a nuclear cooperation treaty on Sept. 10, paving the way for companies including Mitsubishi Heavy to sell nuclear reactors to the Middle East country.
Prime Minister Naoto Kan promised to support Jordan’s plans to build a nuclear power plant at a meeting with Rifai on Oct. 12, Kyodo News reported.