Minister of Energy Wael Sabri is currently negotiating with a private company to build and operate an electric power plant at the cost of $500 million.
Sabri on Thursday said the ministry intends to announce a final deal by the middle of September.
He said the 450 megawatt plant, which will be completed by the year 2004, will sell electric power to the National Electric Power Company.
The deal will necessitate the conclusion of three other agreements: The purchase of electricity, the supply of fuel for power generation and a land lease agreement, said the minister, who also noted that construction of the power plant will start in the second half of 2001.
Referring to the connection of the Jordanian and Syrian electric power grids, one component of a regional plan to connect the grids of six Middle Eastern countries, the minister said that work on both sides has been completed. He said that the two countries are currently involved in experimental power exchange, and that the final phase of the link-up is expected to be completed before the end of the year.
Sabri disclosed that eight foreign companies have bid for participation in ongoing explorations for gas in the Risheh fields near Jordan's border with Iraq.
The National Oil Company is assessing the bids, and it is hoped that an agreement will be reached by the end of this year.
According to the minister, the development of the gas fields will take place in two stages. The first entails drilling new wells and determining the amount of the reserves, a process which will cost $25 million and will take at least two years.
The second stage entails the actual development of the gas fields. The government believes that gas can be exploited at commercial levels at a cost of around $450 million.
According to the minister, Canadian, Australian and British companies have expressed interest in exploring for oil in the Kingdom and have concluded memoranda of understanding with the Ministry of Energy.
At present, Jordan is annually buying 4.8 million tonnes of crude oil and oil products from Iraq under concessionary terms at the rate of $19 a barrel. The long-standing accord is the only exemption to the UN embargo imposed on Iraq 10 years ago.
Sabri said Jordan is seeking foreign help in exploiting the huge oil shale reserves in the Kingdom. Canadian firm Suncor is conducting a feasibility study on the project and is expected to finalise its study before the end of this year.
© 2000 Mena Report (www.menareport.com )