Estonia to break ground in Jordan

Anneli Ammas
, reporter
Please note that the article is more than five years old and belongs to our archive. We do not update the content of the archives, so it may be necessary to consult newer sources.
Photo: graafika: Silver Alt

For nine years, Estonia and Jordan have toiled at grand joint project to mine oil shale, build a power station and produce shale oil. With the first two, finishing line is in sight. 

Meeting with Riigikogu delegation yesterday, Jordanian energy and mineral recourses ministry secretary-general Ghaleb M. Maabreh pledged 99 percent assurance that construction of the power plant will commence next year. In three years, latest, Jordan – thus far mainly depending on foreign purchases regarding energy and crudes – may produce its initial electricity from its own oil shale.

These days, the Jordanian king Abdullah ibn Hussein is on official visit to China to sign a high level contract on which basis Chinese banks will finance the €2.2m project.

«In China, His Majesty and the minister (energy and mineral resources minister – edit) are talking about various projects, but a main topic is signing the agreement to finance the Estonia-Jordan joint project,» confirmed the secretary-general.

Of the three projects mentioned above, power plant is at the stage most advanced. For the management of the project, an Estonian, Jordanian and Malaysian joint company Enefit Jordan has been founded with Eesti Energia’s holding at 65 percent. A Malaysian power company YTL holds 30 and Jordanian Near East Company 5 percent of shares. At the talks, it has been discussed that after Chinese financer steps in, Eesti Energia might cut its holding to ten percent. Though lion’s share of own financing will be covered by selling shares, Eesti Energia will still have to add millions of euros. The precise sums will emerge during talks with partners.

Estonia is optimistic regarding profitability of the Jordanian project, hoping to earn own financing back with dividends during some six years and from there to make yearly profits.  

Meanwhile, miner for oil shale is being sought for the world over. Shale oil production, however, is being talked by Jordanians and Estonians as something for the future – especially with view of the currently low oil prices, said representatives of the Estonian parliamentary committee.

At the meeting, the Jordanian ministry’s secretary-general hinted at possible partners for oil shale production other than Estonia.

Talking to Postimees afterwards, he assured us they are primarily intending to count on Estonian knowhow. «I said there are others in various regions of the world who are working at oil shale production,» specified Mr Maabreh. «But I would not like them to beat Estonia to it. As up to now Estonia is the first country where shale oil is being produced from oil shale, I am convinced the cooperation with Estonians will succeed.» He said it all will take time for financial and other reasons, but he is 50 percent sure the joint project will succeed.

According to Jordanian spokesperson for the project Bassam Kakish (81), a veteran diplomat, military officer and manager of various state enterprises, Jordan is in great need for electricity.

«We need even more electricity – therefore, we have also signed nuclear reactor building contract with Russia,» said Mr Kakish. «We also need more electricity because our population is increasing, including on account of the people coming to Jordan right now. Our region needs lots of electricity.»

He added that up to now they had been used to produce electricity from Egyptian gas but at the moment the latter’s taps are closed. «At the moment, we produce electricity by burning diesel which we import at very high prices,» said Mr Kakish to underline the importance of cooperation with Estonia.

* Red arrow on picture points at development region in Jordan.