What are the main pillars of the updated National Energy Strategy, and how will it influence Jordan's energy sector?
We are currently working with the participation of all stakeholders from both the public and private sectors to prepare Jordan's National Energy Strategy for 2030, with a vision for 2050 in mind. This strategy is built on four main pillars: energy security, increasing energy independence, reducing cost, and diversifying energy resources. When we talk about energy security, it is important to talk about local energy resources. We have been and will continue to work toward increasing locally generated energy. Today, around 10% of electricity in Jordan is generated from renewables, and we expect this figure to double by 2020. To do so, we are reinforcing our grid and developing our Green Corridor project. With the completion of this project, the grid will be able to take 1,200MW of additional renewable energy. We also plan to establish an Eastern Corridor to utilize more renewable energy, particularly solar from the northeast part of Jordan. In addition to grid expansion and reinforcement projects, regional grid connection initiatives are underway with Iraq and Saudi Arabia in order to stabilize the grids and exchange electricity. Another aspect of addressing energy independence and increasing security is energy storage. We have announced a call for proposals for a storage project that already has proposals from 10 reputable companies that we are assessing. Soon, we hope to announce the winning proposal. Beyond electricity, for the past two years, we have been diversifying our gas imports. In mid 2018, we were fully dependent on LNG via the port in Aqaba; today, we have started to diversify our resources with Egyptian gas. On marketing and downstream oil products, Jordan currently has three oil marketing companies—Manaseer, Total, and Jordan Petroleum Products Marketing Company Ltd (JoPetrol)—and we have announced our intention to license two more companies to increase the number of competitors and create greater security for the sector. Another important and strategic project in the oil sector is the Iraqi oil pipeline to export Iraqi crude oil via the Gulf of Aqaba and enhance the security of Jordan's energy supply. The agreement will give Jordan priority to get 150,000bpd, while the pipeline capacity will be 1 million bpd.
How are the oil and gas exploration activities progressing in the Kingdom?
Within oil and gas exploration, we are intensifying our efforts in three main areas. The first is to upgrade and develop Risha Gas Field to improve gas production. Today, we are producing around 10 million cubic feet (mcf) of gas per day with hopes to double that by YE2019, which is still not that much if we compare it to Jordan's current consumption of over 330mcf of gas per day. The second is oil and gas explorations, where we have identified six areas where we believe there could be oil—Jafr, the North Highlands, West Safawi, Rum, Petra, and the Dead Sea. We have announced these areas as open exploration blocks, and two of them have been taken by one of the companies for further studies. The third area is oil shale. We have four oil companies working in Jordan, including Shell, which is experimenting its unique in situ conversion process. There are three other companies working in surface retort exploration.
In addition to licensing two additional oil marketing companies, what else is happening in Jordan's downstream oil industry?
When we talk about downstream, it is important to mention the Jordan Petroleum Refinery Company (JPRC). It is operating on a commercial basis and is looking at its fourth expansion, for which it seeks to raise funds. This expansion will allow the refinery to improve its products, most of which go to the local market. Moreover, the refinery has started to export some of its products, so the upgrade and expansion is also important for Jordan.