VOICES FROM THE SECTOR: ENERGY

Jordan 2019 | ENERGY | INTERVIEW

TBY talks to Amjad Al Rawashdeh, Managing Director of National Electric Power Company (NEPCO) and to Mohammad Khasawneh, Director General of National Petroleum Company (NPC) on the Energy sector.

Amjad Al Rawashdeh

How is NEPCO working to diversify its energy sources and reduce energy costs?

NEPCO is responsible for the national grid, acting as the transmission system operator and service provider. It is also the single buyer and bulk supplier of electricity in Jordan. Additionally, according to current law, we are committed to maintaining enough available generation capacity to satisfy demand. As for the reciprocal relationship between energy and the economy, while economic growth declines, this adversely impacts demand across Jordan, NEPCO, therefore, has more capacity than necessary. This is one of the challenges we face today, which is why we have plans in place to convert these challenges into opportunities. We are pursuing agreements with neighboring countries that need electricity, for example Iraq and Lebanon. This is one of the many options we are looking at to minimize the cost of our commitment. We also have an oil shale project coming online in 2020 that will help us diversify and localize our energy sources while adding stability to the system in general.

How will your loan agreement with EBRD influence NEPCO as well as Jordan's energy sector?

We recently signed an agreement with EBRD for a loan of USD265 million. Of that, USD200 million is to refinance our local loans in commercial banks. The remaining USD65 million is for the CAPEX program. This will help us with cash flow and capitalize on the reduced interest rate. One of our strategies is to get long-term loans from international institutions to refinance the commercial loans we have from local banks. This loan from EBRD will help significantly. In the meantime, we are approaching other international banks to get refinancing loans and minimize the cost of the interest rate as well as ease our current cash flow problems.

How does this better allow NEPCO to continue revolutionizing renewable energy in Jordan?

One of our strategies is to integrate the system to be more flexible and maximize the use of renewables. We have a dispatch control center, which we seek to upgrade or build a new one. This will increase the flexibility and ability to control the grid to accommodate more renewable energy because renewable energy is not a consistent source of electricity. Rather, it needs to be stored and later deployed at peak consumption times. As a result, the more renewable energy integrations, the greater the need to upgrade the control center or build a new one that can handle renewable energy.